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Abernethy and Newell Creeks goals and objectives

Planning and conservation    Natural areas, parks and trails    Protecting natural areas    Acquiring natural areas    Abernethy and Newell Creeks    Goals and objectives

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

The Metro Council's goals and objectives for the Abernethy and Newell Creeks target area are:

photo of Abernethy and Newell Creeks target area


  • Protect undeveloped lands along lower Newell Creek for future restoration (especially threatened habitat for native steelhead and cutthroat populations) and wildlife connectivity.
  • Protect natural corridors and uplands along the main stem of Abernethy Creek and its major tributaries to protect water quality and wildlife habitat.


Tier I Objectives

  • Protect natural corridors along the main stem of Abernethy Creek and its major tributaries (Potter and Holcomb creeks) to protect water quality and habitat for fish downstream of Hidden Lake.
  • Acquire large blocks of remnant oak woodlands and associated habitat in upper Holcomb and Potter creeks.

Tier II Objectives

  • Preserve large blocks of conifer forests and oak woodlands to provide upland habitat corridors or "stepping stones" to other public lands.
  • Protect remaining gaps along the creek corridor in Newell Creek Canyon and at the confluence area of Abernethy and Newell creeks for future restoration and wildlife connectivity.

Partnership Objective

  • Pursue partnership opportunities with the City of Oregon City, the Trust for Public Land, and others to leverage regional bond dollars.

About the area

Located within Oregon City, Newell Creek originates near Clackamas Community College and winds north to its confluence with Abernethy Creek, a tributary of the Willamette River. Newell Creek supports significant native populations of fish, including coho salmon, cutthroat trout and steelhead. The presence of these native fish and the relatively large size of the bordering undeveloped land make the canyon biologically notable. The property includes a native forest of red cedar, Douglas fir, big-leaf maple and red alder with an understory of fern, snowberry and salmonberry. A portion of a former rail alignment has potential for a future trail.

Historically, the Abernethy basin consisted of oak woodlands, prairie, and old-growth Douglas fir forests in the uplands, mixed deciduous-coniferous forests along streams, and wetlands. This important natural area, especially the lower Abernethy watershed, is severely threatened by nearby growth and development.

2006 Natural Areas Program bond description

With successful protection of portions of Newell Creek, continued acquisition of undeveloped lands along its lower portion and along Abernethy Creek will expand fish and wildlife habitat critical to the area in and around Oregon City, especially threatened habitat for native steelhead and cutthroat populations.

1995 Natural Areas Program goals and accomplishments

  • Acquire 370 acres for a future regional natural park area within Newell Creek Canyon to protect the unique natural features and water quality of the creek.

To date, 279.6 acres have been protected. A large, adjacent private parcel is presently protected by zoning and the landowner, who is likely to continue long-term protection. Together with lands owned and managed by Oregon City and the Oregon Department of Transportation, Newell Creek watershed includes the largest intact forested natural area in the southern Portland metropolitan area.

New focus for Metro's 2006 Natural Areas Program

  • Increase focus on protecting fish and wildlife habitat on Abernethy Creek, especially the lower Abernethy watershed.
  • Initial estimates are that a minimum of 150 acres of land would be protected within this target area.

Field research and scientific data findings

  • Abernethy watershed is more than 14,000 acres with 42 miles of perennial streams that have high potential for future restoration and wildlife connectivity.
  • Holcomb and Potter creeks, major tributaries to Abernethy Creek, have high quality fish habitat.
  • A large oak woodland in upper Holcomb Creek is the only remaining oak habitat found in the area.
  • There is an opportunity to create a mostly continuous forested corridor linking Clear Creek Canyon with Abernethy Creek through a mature coniferous forest in upper Potter Creek.
  • Thousands of acres of adjoining forest remain above Beaver Lake.
  • Recent Columbia white-tailed deer populations may reside in the upper basin (unconfirmed).

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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