Projects for the 2019 parks and nature bond measure are clipping along faster and faster as we get near the end of 2021. The local share program just completed its first project, a land purchase by Gresham; the Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants program is taking applications for its design and review committee; there’s a public comment opportunity for the walking and biking trails program, and applications are about to start for the trails grant program.
Bond program updates
Protect and restore land
Contact: Shannon Leary, [email protected]
The protect and restore land team has continued to refine the plans that will guide land purchases in the bond measure’s 24 target areas. A good deal of the information that’s guiding the process, including the ecological assessments of the target areas, is posted on our project page.
Over the past few weeks, the team has focused on community engagement with six roundtables to learn more about how environmental inequities affect people of color and members of other communities who have not been served equitably by Metro’s past investments in nature. One session was with Black and African American folks, another with Latine folks, one with Indigenous Latine people, one with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, one was for people of color, and the sixth was with people who have disabilities.
These roundtables are one example of our work to ensure the protect and restore land program is informed by meaningful community engagement and that community members who have been excluded from governmental decisions and who have not been served equitably by past bond investments exercise voice, agency, and involvement in public decision-making for natural areas.
The information from the roundtables that falls within the scope of the protect and restore land program will be incorporated into the land purchase plans. Next, we’re planning for public engagement sessions in early 2022 to share our proposed plans to protect land in each target area, highlighting how we’ve incorporated community feedback along the way. We want to hear from you what we got right and what we missed before we bring final plans to the Metro Council for approval in spring of 2022. While we are still purchasing land now, this will be an important milestone leading to new opportunities for land protection and restoration in the years to come.
Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants
Contact: Crista Gardner, [email protected]
The Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants program is reviewing applications for the design and review committee to guide an exciting new pilot project.
The capital grants pilot will use an innovative funding approach called participatory budgeting that gives community members a direct voice in choosing which projects to recommend for funding in their communities. Members of the design and review committee will help design the program and ultimately recommend up to $4 million in grant funding.
The Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants pilot, a project that’s part of the 2019 parks and nature bond measure, will support community-led projects that benefit historically marginalized communities, protect and improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, support climate resilience and improve people’s experience of nature at the community scale.
Local parks and nature projects (local share)
Contact: Antonia Machado, [email protected]
We’re so pleased to share the news that the first local share project went through. Gresham purchased an eight-acre plot known as Shaull Woods, responding to calls from community members to protect the hundreds of trees and wetlands off of Powell Boulevard.
The project is the perfect example of how meaningful community engagement and racial equity produce strong results. The neighborhoods surrounding Shaull Woods are among the most diverse in the state. About 40% of the folks who live there are people of color and more than 70 languages are spoken in the neighborhoods. Several apartment complexes are within a couple blocks of the woods. The woods, which sit right against Southwest Community Park and Grant Butte, are one of the only greenspaces in the area. Beavers, deer and river otters, plus dozens of other species live in the woods and wetlands.
Those two factors – the habitat for wildlife and the access to nature for people – drove a strong community-led campaign to preserve the woods.
“Our community was very, very clear in making their voices heard,” Gresham Council President Eddy Morales said, adding, “We hadn’t seen this kind of mobilization. It was from a diverse set of communities: Latinos, Black, AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander)."
On November 16, the local share team held a roundtable event with park providers on the topic of displacement and gentrification. These monthly roundtables serve as gathering space for our partners to share ideas and strategies, and to lead with equity. At this roundtable, we heard about examples and approaches to avoid gentrification and displacement in our communities as we plan parks and natural areas to be enjoyed by all. Community advocate Donovan Smith spoke about community placemaking, and Metro staff shared about work done to create the Southwest Corridor Equitable Development Strategy.
If you were unable to attend, a recording is posted on our local share page. For more information or for the link to attend future roundtables, please contact Amandeep Sohi at [email protected].
Walking and biking trails
Contact: Robert Spurlock, [email protected]
Weigh in on how we prioritize trail gap purchases!
$10 million of the bond funds are dedicated to purchasing land from willing sellers to complete portions of the region’s network of walking and biking trails.
There are more potential projects than even $10 million can fund, so Metro has worked with community members over the past year to rank projects based on their needs and priorities. This community input is being used to create a prioritization tool that will help Metro make decisions about which trail projects to invest in with limited resources.
Now, Metro needs your help reviewing the prioritization tool to make sure it is accurately reflecting what community members asked for and what you know about the context around each potential project. The survey will be open through Dec. 3.
Trails grants for local governments
In addition to funding for buying new properties for future trail projects, the bond also includes up to $20 million for a grant program that helps local governments plan and construct regional trails.
Metro will allocate these grant funds through the same process as the 2025–2027 Regional Flexible Funds (RFFA) Step 2 funding. This lets local governments submit one application to be considered for funding from both sources and all projects submitted will be evaluated according to the similar criteria for each program.
The call for project proposals is scheduled to open at the end of this month. Instructions and application materials will be available for download at oregonmetro.gov/RFFA.
Metro staff will hold a proposers’ workshop on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. (via Zoom). This workshop will assist applicants in developing their proposals, with a particular focus on helping applicants understand the level of detail needed in their proposals to create accurate project scopes, budgets and timelines. Providing a thoroughly detailed proposal is essential to ensure a successful project delivery through the federal and ODOT processes.
If you would like to register for this workshop or want to learn more about the grant program you can contact Dan Kaempff at [email protected] or Robert Spurlock at [email protected].
Project proposals are due by the end of February.
Natural areas oversight committee meeting
Contact: Beth Cohen, [email protected]
The Natural Areas and Capital Program Performance Oversight Committee has its next meeting on December 7. The focus of the meeting will be to help the committee discuss and prepare for the work of building towards a year one report in early 2022. Here is where the meeting agenda and details will be posted.