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East Buttes goals and objectives

Planning and conservation    Natural areas, parks and trails    Protecting natural areas    Acquiring natural areas    East Buttes    Goals and objectives

Learn about the goals and objectives for habitat and water quality protection in the East Buttes 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 East Buttes target area are:

photo of East Buttes target area


  • Connect the substantial Butler Ridge natural area in public ownership to create a wildlife corridor and potential access to the Clackamas River via Sunshine Butte, Tower Butte, Zion Butte and the North Fork Deep Creek.
  • Protect butte tops and slopes for wildlife habitat and corridors between these wooded slopes and create scenic vistas that provide visual relief to urban residents.
  • Protect headwaters of healthy streams through acquisition of wooded hillsides on Scouter Mountain and Mount Talbert.


Tier I Objectives

  • Protect wooded slopes on Sunshine Butte and along tributaries to Sunshine Creek to maintain wildlife corridors to the Clackamas River.
  • Protect wooded slopes on Tower and Zion Buttes to secure wildlife corridors to the Clackamas River.
  • Acquire land on Scouter Mountain in close proximity to other public land holdings to create a larger contiguous open space on the butte.

Tier II Objectives

  • Close the gaps in public ownership by acquiring key parcels along Butler Ridge to create a biologically significant natural area and to facilitate public access to these lands.
  • Acquire properties on the north side of Mount Talbert contiguous with other public holdings and in the headwaters of Mount Scott Creek.

Partnership Objectives

  • Pursue partnership opportunities with the City of Damascus, ODOT, the City of Gresham, Clackamas County, North Clackamas Park District, Damascus, Happy Valley and the Three Rivers Land Conservancy to achieve the priority objectives and to leverage the regional bond funds.
  • Explore partnership possibilities with school districts, including Gresham-Barlow School District on their facility development plans for their property on Sunshine Creek.

About the area

A group of extinct volcanoes and lava domes in north Clackamas and east Multnomah counties lend unique geographic character to the region, providing wildlife habitat and panoramic vistas. The East Buttes/Boring Lava Domes target area is Metro's largest, stretching from Rocky Butte in Portland to the Clackamas River in the south, and from I-205 in the west to Highway 26 in the east. Primary goals are to secure a regionally and biologically significant natural area between Gresham and Damascus, and to help protect several urban buttes and extinct rugged lava domes rising 500 to 1,000 feet above the Willamette Valley floor. The area contains some of the largest contiguous wildlife habitat in the region.

Gresham-Damascus Buttes
South of Gresham on Gresham Butte, a broad forested corridor of natural area stretches along a section known as "Butler Ridge" and the adjacent North Damascus Buttes, creating a wildlife habitat area that could offset the impact of urban development. Part of this area along Regner Road has commanding mountain views to the north, northeast and east. At almost 2,000 feet elevation, a meadow near the crest of a forested butte north of Borges Road and east of 190th Avenue offers panoramic views of Mount Hood, the entrance to the Columbia River Gorge and mountains of Washington state.

Scouter Mountain
Rising more than 700 feet above the valley floor, Scouter Mountain offers views of the Cascades and surrounding Pleasant Valley. Located between rapidly growing Happy Valley and Pleasant Valley east of I-205, this area includes Mitchell Creek and its tributaries feeding Kelley Creek and ultimately Johnson Creek.

Mount Talbert
Mount Talbert is the largest undeveloped butte in northern Clackamas County, rising as a forested green sentinel overlooking the busy I-205 and Sunnyside Road interchange just to the west. Metro and North Clackamas County Parks and Recreation District protected 193 acres with 1995 bond funds, including the top of the former lava dome. This preserved quality wildlife habitat as well as the integrity of west and north facing slopes visible to tens of thousands of people daily. A master plan has been approved for public use of the area, and the Mount Talbert Nature Park is slated for opening in summer 2007.

2006 Natural Areas Program bond description

The remaining undeveloped wooded slopes of extinct lava domes in our eastern metropolitan region provide opportunities to protect water quality and large areas for wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors from the outer reaches of the Cascades to the inner Portland urban area such as Scouter Mountain and buttes in the Damascus area. Panoramic vistas east and south from the butte tops provide stunning views of valleys, farmland and the Cascades. The forested buttes frame the valleys, create a unique geography for local residents and provide welcome visual relief from surrounding land uses. Expansion of the urban growth boundary in and around Damascus presents a sense of urgency to preserve these features.

1995 Natural Areas Program goals and accomplishments

  • Acquire 545 acres to create a biologically significant natural area between Gresham and Damascus.
  • Focus on the buttes south of Gresham including Jenne Butte and Butler Ridge.
  • Enhance and connect existing natural area properties at Mount Scott, Powell Butte, Rocky Butte, Kelly Butte and Scouter Mountain, in addition to providing biological links between the East Buttes and the Clackamas River.

To date 865.5 acres have been protected with the focus along Butler Ridge and at Mount Talbert.


New focus for Metro's 2006 Natural Areas Program

  • Protect and preserve wildlife corridors from the outer reaches of the Cascades to inner Portland's urban areas.
  • Preserve panoramic vistas and provide visual relief from urban development and expansion.

Field research and scientific data findings

  • The East Buttes provide critical habitat to migratory wildlife and important connections to Deep Creek, the Clackamas River and to the Cascades.
  • Headwaters of urban creeks (e.g. Johnson and Mitchell creeks) surround the buttes, providing valuable creekside wildlife corridors and water quality.
  • Protecting adjoining habitat and closing gaps within already protected areas would retain unique and at-risk habitats, and provide connections between wetlands, creekside corridors and upland habitat.
  • Based on rarity of habitat, connectivity and core habitat area the buttes rank as follows: better - Tower Butte, Zion Hill, Sunshine Butte, South Butler Butte, North Butler Buttes and Mount Talbert; good - Johnson Creek, Scouter Mountain; fair - Damascus Buttes

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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