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Willamette River Greenway

Planning and conservation    Natural areas, parks and trails    Protecting natural areas    Acquiring natural areas    Willamette River Greenway

Learn about the goals and objectives for Willamette River Greenway. View maps illustrating the Metro Council's priorities for this regional greenway corridor and learn more about what parts of the trail are already complete.

The Metro Council's goal and objectives for the Willamette River Greenway target area are:

photo of Willamette River Greenway target area


  • Protect fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, scenic resources and improve public access to the river along the greenway from Wilsonville to the Multnomah Channel.


Tier I Objectives

  • Close key trail gaps in Portland, including those in North and Southeast Portland.
  • Secure remaining unique and rare habitats. These include Multnomah Channel, the large forested area west of the Sellwood Bridge and lands near Elk Rock Island.

Partnership Objectives

  • Work with existing groups (including the State of Oregon, the City of Portland, Meyer Memorial Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Western Rivers Conservancy, and others) to leverage regional bond funds to the maximum extent possible to achieve Tier I priorities and to preserve and restore the Willamette River.
  • Support efforts by other public agencies to restore habitat and create regional trails in the Willamette River.

About the area

The Willamette River Greenway was originally established by the 1967 Oregon Legislature as a grant program for land acquisition to State Parks along the Willamette River from Eugene through Portland. The Greenway evolved from a state parks and recreation program in 1970 to a natural corridor program in 1972. Goals for the state program are to protect, conserve, restore, enhance and maintain the ecological, natural, scenic, historical, agricultural, economic, cultural and recreational qualities and resources along the Willamette River.

There is an important trails aspect to this target area, with many completed sections (including large sections of the 40 Mile Loop), but significant remaining gaps.

Many cities in the metro area located along the Willamette River have renewed their commitment and effort to improve access and recreation opportunities, water quality and ecological restoration of the river during the last 10 years. Several citizen groups have formed to advocate for the cleanup of the river and to create more miles of trails and access points along the river.

2006 Natural Areas Program bond description

Acquisition and connections between existing public holdings along the greenway from Wilsonville to the Multnomah Channel will protect fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, scenic resources and improve public access to the river.

1995 Natural Areas Program goals and accomplishments

  • Combine large parcels of continuous forest on terrace above cliffs.
  • Acquire a peninsula that extends into the Willamette River.
  • Preserve cliffs, rock outcrops and seeps.
  • Protect cultural and historic sites.
  • Provide greenway linkages.

To date 1,012 acres have been protected by Metro in this area including: a large wildlife habitat area along the west side of the Multnomah Channel, Willamette Cove near the St. Johns neighborhood in Portland and the Willamette Narrows and Canemah Bluffs areas (now designated its own target area) south of the Tualatin River near West Linn. Trail connections were also secured through the 1995 program including the 3-mile “Springwater on the Willamette” section of the trail.

New focus for Metro's 2006 Natural Areas Program

  • Provide public access to the river.

Field research and scientific data findings

  • Shallows with natural vegetation, even in intensively urban areas, are important rearing areas for steelhead and salmon.
  • An important area of floodplain habitat exists in the vicinity of the Canby Ferry.
  • Coves and shallows provide important refuge and rearing habitat along the river’s main stem.
  • Closing gaps to remaining river-dependent floodplain and wetlands is vital to wildlife.
  • Establishing/connecting riverfront natural areas provides important corridors for wildlife and people.
  • Unique and rare habitats (islands, oaks, prairies, bogs, wetlands) still exist along the river that support important fish and wildlife.

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.

Need assistance?

Natural Areas Program

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