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Rock Creek Headwaters and Greenway

Planning and conservation    Natural areas, parks and trails    Protecting natural areas    Acquiring natural areas    Rock Creek Headwaters

Learn about the goals and objectives for habitat and water quality protection in the Rock Creek Headwaters and Greenway target area. View maps illustrating the Metro Council's priorities and learn more about the importance of this area to our region.

The Metro Council's goals and objectives for the Rock Creek Headwaters and Greenway target area are:

photo of Rock Creek Headwaters and Greenway target area


  • Protect the upper watershed to meet water quality protection goals in the lower watershed.
  • Protect key undeveloped sites in the lower reaches of Rock Creek to buffer growth, protect water quality and provide nature in neighborhoods.
  • Protect habitat along key tributaries and associated wetlands.


Tier I Objectives

  • Acquire and protect the riparian corridors and important upland habitat in the Abbey Creek headwaters.
  • Acquire and protect a natural corridor along the main stem of Abbey Creek linking its confluence at Rock Creek to the Westside Trail and to Forest Park.
  • Acquire the remaining gaps in public ownership along the Rock Creek Greenway between Highway 26 and the Tualatin River.

Tier II Objective

  • Expand the protected natural area near the confluence of Holcomb Creek and Rock Creek to provide greater habitat for vulnerable species.

Partnership Objective

  • Pursue partnership opportunities with Washington County, the City of Hillsboro, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, Clean Water Services (CWS), PCC-Rock Creek and Three Rivers Land Conservancy to meet protection goals in the Rock Creek Headwaters and Greenway target area.

About the area

Rock Creek flows from the Tualatin Mountains through a segment of Forest Park to the Tualatin River. Because the creek and its tributaries pass through rapidly urbanizing neighborhoods within the city of Hillsboro, protecting water quality is a priority. Metro has acquired 11 parcels of land, six of which are contiguous, along Rock Creek. The city of Hillsboro and the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD) are managing most of the land. Tualatin Hills Nature Park surrounds one 22-acre site on three sides. It was acquired jointly by THPRD and Metro. Varied habitat of forested uplands, oak woodlands and oak savanna supports diverse fish and wildlife, including vulnerable fish and wildlife species.

2006 Natural Areas Program bond description

A major tributary of the Tualatin River, upper Rock Creek and its tributaries are under intense development pressure as urban growth expands throughout the watershed. Watershed managers have identified protection of the upper watershed as a high priority for meeting water quality protection goals in the lower watershed. Opportunities to improve and protect habitat also exist through the protection of key tributaries and their associated wetlands. In addition, the protection of key undeveloped sites in the lower reaches of Rock Creek, particularly in Hillsboro, will buffer growth, protect water quality and provide nature in neighborhoods for local residents.

1995 Natural Areas Program goals and accomplishments

  • Acquire 300 acres along the greenway.
  • Acquire key upland sites along Rock Creek's floodplain and tributaries (Bronson and Beaverton creeks).
  • Create a regional natural area at the confluence of Rock Creek and Holcomb Creek.
  • Expand acquisitions of the headwaters area to connect the Rock Creek Greenway with Forest Park.

To date 116.51 acres have been protected by Metro's program.

New focus for Metro's 2006 Natural Areas Program

Protect upper Rock Creek and its tributaries to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Field research and scientific data findings

  • Oak woodlands and oak savanna habitat support varied wildlife, including Western bluebirds.
  • Opportunities exist to connect natural areas between Rock Creek and Forest Park for wildlife travel corridors.
  • Expanding protected natural areas would increase habitat opportunities for vulnerable species such as red-legged frogs, northwestern pond turtles, and western bluebirds.
  • Threatened species such as steelhead, cutthroat trout and coho salmon are present in Rock, Abbey, Holcomb, Bannister and Bronson creeks, as well as in an Abbey Creek tributary.

Public input helps Metro Council set priorities

In September 2007 the Metro Council approved acquisition plans for each of the 27 regional target areas. The Metro Council established these priorities with the input of natural resource and land use experts, scientists, citizens and local land managers. More than 500 people attended eight community open houses to share their ideas with Metro Councilors. Nearly 1,000 people filled out questionnaires ranking their priorities and offering ideas for partnerships and other ways to stretch the public's investment. The acquisition plans include a map, goals and objectives for each target area.

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Natural Areas Program

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