Protecting and restoring land sits at the core of Metro’s parks and nature mission. Thanks to voters, Metro has been able to protect important areas of remaining native prairies, forests, wetlands and other valuable habitat — home to rare plants and endangered or threatened fish and wildlife. Other properties fill key gaps in regional trails, providing connections for bike commuters, hikers and joggers. Some natural areas, such as Chehalem Ridge and Newell Creek Canyon, became nature parks that provide growing communities with access to nature.
The 2019 parks and nature bond called on Metro to do this work with greater input from community members. The Metro Council-approved acquisition road map that guides Metro’s purchases was deeply informed by input from members of greater Portland’s Indigenous community. For instance, the road map places greater priority on cultural resources held in natural areas and looks for opportunities to restore streams diverted into pipes to improve habitat for salmon, steelhead, lamprey and trout.
The bond provides up to $155 million for Metro to purchase natural areas from willing sellers and for large-scale restoration projects. This program continues the work of the 2006 bond measure, which acquired and protected more than 6,876 acres – significantly surpassing the original goal of about 4,000 acres. Over the past fiscal year, Metro has added 188 acres to its portfolio of natural areas.
Purchases included 25 acres at Clear Creek in Clackamas County, .7 acres on Crystal Springs Creek in Portland, 92 acres near North Holcomb Creek in Clackamas County, 39.5 acres in Fir Clearing Creek Canyon in Washington County
The bond measure’s local share program has also allowed cities, counties and parks providers throughout the region to acquire land so people can experience nature in their neighborhoods. The City of Tualatin used its local share dollars to purchase a 6.7-acre natural area across the street from an upcoming affordable housing project.
A tiny land purchase with a big effect at Coffee Lake Creek
Over the last 25 years, using funds from three bond measures, Metro has made several land purchases in the area with the aim of preserving one of the few viable biodiversity corridors left in the area.
Metro’s most recent acquisition is very small: just 3.67 acres. The small plot lies to the west of Grahams Ferry Road, overlooking Coffee Lake and the industrial buildings on the far shore. Canada geese honk as they fly over the water and a frog sings nearby.
This little property is the vital puzzle piece that links up a span of three existing Metro natural areas, says Metro natural resource scientist Andrea Berkley. Together they form a 350-acre protected landscape that includes “two of the most imperiled types of habitat in the Willamette Valley: wetlands and oak upland.”
The new property’s impact is disproportionate to its size, says Metro real estate negotiator, Ryan Ruggiero. It connects the North Coffee Lake Creek Wetlands Natural Area to the Tonquin Scablands Natural Area. This means that almost 100 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat and a mile-long stretch of creek are protected in perpetuity. And just across Grahams Ferry Road is Metro’s 265-acre Coffee Lake Creek Wetlands. “It’s not common,” Ruggiero says, “that a single acquisition can have such an amplifying effect on habitat connectivity, the way this one does.”
From: "Missing link: the steady evolution of a wildlife cooridor."