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Nature in Neighborhoods grants: neighborhood livability

Grants    Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants    Neighborhood livability

Metro's capital grants transform neighborhood natural areas, showing that nature can be close to home.



Tourist guidebooks hail big regional parks, but for locals, neighborhood natural areas are a big draw. They give people a place to walk, reflect and connect with nature.

Nature in Neighborhoods grants are helping communities create and transform outdoor destinations close to homes and schools. Thanks to voters’ support, kids will enjoy a new nature play area at Westmoreland Park. In North Portland, two urban gardens provide a learning laboratory for nature lovers of all ages. And students at Pleasant Valley School will explore their favorite natural area on a network of trails and boardwalks.

Unlike big regional natural areas, neighborhood projects typically don’t protect large blocks of threatened wildlife habitat. But, by preserving the nature down the street, they forge a connection between urban neighborhoods and the natural world.

Case study

For park-deprived neighborhood in Clackamas County, neighborhood natural area was a selling point

Hawthorne Park

Hawthorne Park, $140,000

Recipient: Clackamas County Development Agency

Partners: HP Development, Clackamas County Land Trust, North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District, Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District

Nestled along Southeast King Road, just west of 82nd Avenue, the Hawthorne Park development provides easy access to shopping and transportation – but not parks, until now. Hawthorne Park is officially open to the public, thanks in part to a Nature in Neighborhoods capital grant, a program that uses funds from Metro’s voter-approved 2006 natural areas bond measure.

The new, one-acre park expands opportunities for residents from the adjacent 29-home mixed income housing development to connect with nature in park deprived neighborhood. The promise of a future park attracted nearby home buyers with dogs and children and was a natural selling point for the property.

Hawthorne Park falls in an urban renewal district intended to revitalize part of northern Clackamas County, which allowed Portland-based HP Development to enhance the project by teaming up the Clackamas County Development Agency. 

"Initially, our interest was piqued with the housing part of the project," said Ken Itel, project manager for the development agency. "When we realized there was going to be this leftover open space, we recognized that was an opportunity to provide some additional park space for the community."

Leftover land was no accident, said Kirby Gibson, HP Development's real estate agent. Rather than build a traditional neighborhood with large yards, she said, the developer decided to squeeze lots and make room for a communal outdoor area.

The neighborhood' s namesake park features native trees and shrubs, a walking path, picnic tables, a stormwater pond and bridge, and a nature-based play area with logs and climbing boulders. The natural materials take fewer resources to maintain – a bonus for the homeowners association, which is responsible for park upkeep.

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Mary Rose Navarro
Conservation Corner

featured projects

Westmoreland Park, $150,000

A popular Southeast Portland park gets an upgrade with the restoration of Crystal Springs Creek. A concrete channel and playground equipment will be removed from the floodplain, and banks replanted with native trees and shrubs. A new play area will improve sensory awareness and help children discover the natural environment.

Pleasant Valley School boardwalk, $112,000

Restoring the Wildside natural area has been a learning experience for students at Centennial's Pleasant Valley Elementary School – and the lessons will multiply with a new network of trails and boardwalks. This project will allow students to explore the seven-and-a-half-acre natural area more easily, enhancing environmental education without sacrificing habitat.

Conservation Corner, $99,000

A historic property in North Portland's Humboldt neighborhood has been transformed into an outdoor classroom and living laboratory. The demonstration garden, housed at the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District office, gives visitors ideas to incorporate natural features into the landscape at home.

Humboldt Learning Garden, $34,000

A long-vacant lot next to Humboldt School is now a learning garden for students and residents of Humbolt Garden, a low-income housing development across the street. Metro's funding helps collect and re-use the school's stormwater and incorporate native plants throughout the garden.

¡Let Us Build Cully Park!, $577,000

Today, Cully Park is a 25-acre former landfill, closed and gated to keep people out. It will soon welcome Northeast Portland residents with walking trails, play and picnic areas and a community garden. The nonprofit Verde is taking the lead in this transformation, engaging diverse community groups and neighbors.

Nadaka Nature Park, $238,806

Lead by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, neighborhood and community groups secured a second grant to transform the recently acquired gateway to Nadaka Nature Park with gathering spaces, nature-based play and a community garden.

Protected by voters

Chehalem Ridge

12,000 acres and counting

Thanks to two voter-approved bond measures, the Metro Natural Areas Program has protected more than 12,000 acres across the Portland metropolitan area. Caring for this land enhances water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities for future generations. Learn more

Featured tool

Interactive map screenshot

Explore from home

Experience Metro grant projects and 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. Go

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