Protecting and restoring nature is the heart of the 2019 parks and nature bond measure. The first property acquired with money from the new bond measure happened in fall 2020, with the protection of 86 acres in the Sandy River Gorge.
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 year, Metro has added 101 of acres to its portfolio of natural areas.
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.
Every property Metro buys is within a specific target area set out in the bond measures that voters approved. Properties are purchased only from willing sellers.
Throughout 2021, Metro worked to transform its land acquisition program to better advance racial equity and engage community members so that community priorities, along with the best scientific and ecological data, shape the types of properties that are purchased. Indigenous community members, in particular, helped design the assessments of the 24 target areas in the 2019 bond measure.
Some of the properties are in urban areas, providing opportunities for people to connect with nature close to home. Others are a little outside of cities, protecting wildlife habitat and drinking water.
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.
86 acres in Sandy River Basin marks first acquisition by 2019 parks and nature bond measure
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. 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.”
From “New 86-acre natural area in Sandy River Basin protects wildlife habitat, improves climate resiliency”