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Nature in Neighborhoods grants: restoration

Grants    Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants    Restoration

By improving habitat for fish and animals, restoration projects create better places for people, too.

Milwaukie riverfront

Milwaukie riverfront

Conservation groups have no shortage of restoration projects on their wish lists. The challenge: finding funding to make them happen.

With a boost from Nature in Neighborhoods grants, restoration efforts are improving the health of floodplains and watershed basins across the region – from the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve to Mount Scott Creek and several places in between. Although these projects improve habitat for fish, amphibians and other animals, many are also designed to improve the park experience for human visitors.

Successful restoration projects are selected for their ecological value. Their benefits will unfold over many years, as native plants make a comeback, salmon return to streams and birds rediscover healthy wetlands.

Case study

In Milwaukie, Metro helps a riverfront renewal come to life

Reinvigorating Milwaukie's waterfront has been a public priority for nearly half a century. And with help from Metro, both residents and salmon will have reason to come and stay a while.

Klein Point

Klein Point overlook and habitat enhancement, $255,000

Recipients: Johnson Creek Watershed Council, City of Milwaukie

Partners: Willamette Riverkeeper, Milwaukie Rotary, Oregon Dental Services, Gary and Sharon Klein, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, PGE Salmon Fund, FishAmerica Foundation, City of Portland

Renderings of manmade water features, a floating dock and paved trails offer a promising future for Milwaukie Riverfront Park – long home to parking lots, a boat ramp and a smattering of trees.

"Right now you can drive to the riverfront, stay in your car and look at the river. Or you can launch a boat," said JoAnn Herrigel, community services director for the city. "There's just not much to do."

The city envisions a walkable park with benches, event space and picnic areas for the 8.5 acres sandwiched between the Willamette River and McLoughlin Boulevard. A four-phase design plan stresses recreation, the environment and education.

Officials hope that completing phase one will feed interest – and funds – into the project. Thanks in part to a $225,000 grant from Metro's Nature in Neighborhoods program, progress is under way.

The City of Milwaukie and the Johnson Creek Watershed Council saw the riverfront as an opportunity to collaborate. Both want to create recreation space while being sensitive to the location, bordered to the north by Johnson Creek and to the south by Kellogg Creek. The streams are hubs of activity for salmon seeking refuge from the warmer Willamette River.

Robin Jenkinson, restoration coordinator for the watershed council, uses the site for school field trips to talk about water conditions and the species that call Johnson and Kellogg creeks home.

"As an urban watershed council, at least half of our projects include an education and outreach component,” she said. “It’s an important place for people to connect and learn about our streams."

Using funds from Metro, along with various matches, the groups oversaw the meticulous construction of log jams at the mouth of Johnson Creek, as well as a stone riffle over an exposed sewer pipe. Crews secured 150 massive logs to provide fish habitat, and the riffle eases their migration upstream.

Jenkinson said the features have been on the organization’s wish list for years and may improve fish counts, which are increasing but still very low. Last year, three Coho salmon were found about 15 miles upstream in Johnson Creek – the farthest they've been spotted in more than a decade.

"And this past Saturday, one of our volunteer survey teams found Coho in Gresham and Crystal Springs, so we know that there are salmon passing through our streams,” Jenkinson added.

The final piece of phase one is a curving concrete path that ends in an overlook of the mouth of Johnson Creek. It will be partially shaded by a 200-year-old Oregon white oak tree, and interpretive signs will explain the vital role Johnson Creek plays for salmon.

Herrigel called the riverfront project her biggest task at the city. She is one of many in the community counting on the redesign to revive the waterfront and reflect the city’s vibrancy.

"What we're creating is a recreational endpoint so that people can walk, bike or drive. Once they're here, they can actually interact with music and performances, enjoy the play area and picnic grounds, sit on benches and read interpretive signs," she said.

Need assistance?

Mary Rose Navarro

Related Links

Restoring the landscape

Restoring the landscape is good for fish, critters – and people. Metro’s science and stewardship team works with partners to improve water quality and wildlife habitat. You can help oust invasive plants and replace them with native trees and shrubs.

Natural areas storytelling map

Experience Metro natural areas through photography, video and writing on an interactive storytelling map. From Forest Grove to Troutdale and North Portland to Wilsonville, the region is filled with tales of the land.

It's Our Nature video

Go behind the scenes at three places protected by Metro's Natural Areas Program, and learn how voters have made a difference for the region’s water quality, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation.

restoration in progress sign

featured projects

Boardman Creek fish habitat, $485,000

At Oak Grove's Stringfield Park, visitors should be treated to a fish and wildlife refuge along lower Boardman Creek – but the fish can't get there. This grant helps replace two downstream culverts with bridges, daylight and restore habitat and show how bridges can be "wildlife crossings" for amphibians and land animals.

Crystal Springs, $311,000

Crystal Springs has characteristics of an excellent salmon stream: It's entirely spring-fed, with relatively consistent year-round flow and low temperatures. This project helps realize that potential by removing a culvert that blocks juvenile fish passage and restoring floodplain and riparian habitat.

Mount Scott Creek, $150,000

Restoring lower Mount Scott Creek at North Clackamas Park helps people and fish. This project restores the bank and its riparian areas and removes a small culvert at the confluence of Camas Creek. New overlooks reduce heavy foot traffic that has trampled native plants and eroded creek banks.

Wapato Marsh, $129,000

Hillsboro's Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve serves as a destination for hiking, bird-watching and education – and it's about to get even better. This project will transform 120 acres of degraded wetlands in the Tualatin River floodplain into a healthy ecosystem, improving water quality.

Trillium Creek, $55,000

The community is coming together to restore a degraded section of Trillium Creek at Mary S. Young State Park in West Linn, creating a healthy riparian corridor. The project will restore floodplain connectivity and enhance the rich diversity of native trees, shrubs and other plants.

Stone Bridge Fish Passage on Nettle Creek $47,000

At Tryon Creek State Park, erosion threatens a stone bridge across Nettle Creek – and, along with it, an important regional trail connection. The Tryon Creek Watershed Council will replace the bridge, making sure it doesn't become a missing link. This project will also stabilize stream banks and enhance wildlife habitat.

Volunteer opportunities

Restoration volunteers walking at Cooper Mountain

Restoration in Metro's natural areas

Is your service club, faith group, or Scout troop looking for a service project? Is your workplace planning a team-building day? Most of Metro's 12,000-plus acres of natural areas and parks need active and ongoing restoration to enhance their habitat values and suitability for native plants and animals. More

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