The protect and restore land program is the heart of conservation at Metro. This program’s roots go back to Metro’s first bond measure in 1995 and is key to Metro’s work to protect clean water and restore fish and wildlife habitat.
Voter support has allowed Metro to purchase over 15,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat in the past three decades through over 500 individual transactions. The 2019 bond builds on the previous work of the program while emphasizing the importance of making communities and our ecosystem more resilient to the effects of climate change and advancing racial equity through bond investments.
The $155 million dedicated to the protect and restore land program is used in four ways. First, Metro purchases land to create natural areas and sometimes parks. Second, money is used to prepare the land for long-term restoration projects. This includes doing detailed habitat assessments, planting and weeding, and sometimes removing old structures. The money can also be used for restoration projects that count as capital investments. These are big projects like installing new culverts in streams, creating salmon habitat in rivers, or decommissioning roads in natural areas. Finally, this bond measure includes a new pilot program for community-led, racial-justice focused land acquisition.
Like all the bond’s programs, protect and restore land projects must meet the bond’s racial equity, community engagement and climate resilience criteria.
During the bond refinement period, Metro staff are working with community members to transform this successful and historic program to meet the values and criteria of the 2019 parks and nature bond. As this work is going on, Metro is still purchasing properties. The Metro Council recognized that during refinement there may be once-in-a-generation opportunities to buy highly valuable properties. So the Council directed staff to make purchases that clearly met the goals of the bond.
Before the bond was passed, Metro staff worked with community members to identify important areas for conservation in the region and create the priorities that will guide the acquisition of land in these places. The 24 target areas are collections of connected habitats across the region, from the Sandy River to the Coast Range, and from Forest Park to the oaklands south of Oregon City.
In 2020, Metro worked with Indigenous community members to design the ecological assessment report that is used to create a detailed understanding of each target area. The ecological assessments, along with input from Indigenous community members, the region’s conservationists and the wider public, will be used to narrow down the priorities in each target area for the land acquisition team to begin bringing land into Metro’s care.
Learn more about the target areas Metro works in. Ecological assessments, partner input, and more can be found on the interactive map.