A newly acquired 86-acre property in the Sandy River Basin will protect wildlife habitat, improve landscape connectivity and climate resilience, help provide access for restoration and land management and provide potential opportunities for native plant harvest by Indigenous communities.
The forest southeast of Oxbow Regional Park borders Metro’s 40-acre Kingfisher Natural Area, expanding it to 126 acres and making it easier for scientists and restoration crews to work there. The property includes more than 500 feet of native fish habitat along Trout Creek, which flows into the Sandy River.
“As well as providing regionally important habitat connectivity, an exciting part of this purchase for us is the access it provides for habitat restoration,” said Brian Vaughn, a natural resources scientist at Metro. “We used to have to travel by boat to get to this natural area. Being able to walk or drive in means we can do a lot more in terms of land management.”
Vaughn says the first steps for the property will be assessing and removing invasive species, including blackberries, scotch broom and false brome. His team will also look at forest management in the area, with special consideration for the wildlife that call it home.
“We know a lot of Roosevelt elk use this area during winter because of its lower elevation,” Vaughn said. “Our goal is to preserve this wildlife connection and help to maintain a safe passage between their winter and summer habitats.”
Once restored, the natural area will improve water conditions for salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey downstream. The purchase continues Metro’s focus on connecting existing public lands for water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and protecting scenic values and access to nature for people.
The property cost $350,000 and was paid for by the parks and nature bond voters approved in 2019. It was the first conservation purchase with money from the 2019 bond. With the purchase Metro is able to protect clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, connect existing public lands and boost climate resilience in the Sandy River watershed, all important goals in the 2019 measure.
Metro protects and restores 2,224 acres of land in the Sandy River Basin, including the 1,000-acre Oxbow Regional Park where visitors can hike, kayak and observe wildlife. Combined with land managed by Metro’s partner organizations, nearly the entire Sandy River Gorge area is now protected, a result of more than half a century of collaboration among private individuals, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.