The biggest portion of the 2006 bond measure earmarked $168 million for land acquisition by Metro.
Since acquisitions began with money from the 2006 bond measure, more than 6,010 acres have been acquired and protected – significantly surpassing the original goal of about 4,000 acres.
Thanks to voters, Metro has been able to protect some of the last swathes of native prairies, 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.
Every property Metro buys is within one of 27 specific target areas set out in the bond measure that voters approved. Properties are purchased only from willing sellers.
Some of the sites are in urban areas, providing opportunities for people to connect with nature close to home. Others are a little outside of urban areas, protecting important habitat types or protecting drinking water for local residents.
The bond measure’s local share program has also allowed cities, counties and parks providers throughout the region to acquire land close to home so people can connect to nature in their neighborhoods.
New acquisition in Tonquin geologic area protects unique features of Missoula Floods
Metro in August 2016 acquired a 50-acre site just north of Wilsonville that protects unique features of the Missoula floods, which shaped the region’s landscape near the end of the last Ice Age.
A series of floods about 15,000 years ago swept through the Willamette Valley when the waters of Missoula Lake broke through an ice dam. The floodwaters sent boulders, soil and debris from Montana, Idaho and eastern Washington into the region.
The new acquisition includes a 3.5-acre kolk pond, created by whirlpools that scoured out deep areas. Flanking the pond are basalt hills called hummocks.
“The kolk pond and basalt hummocks illustrate the force and footprint of the Missoula Floods,” said Curt Zonick, a senior natural resources scientist at Metro who is leading restoration efforts at the site. “This is really our best acquisition in the Tonquin area to tell the story of what the Missoula Floods did.”
Kolk ponds are rare in the greater Portland metro region because of development, making this acquisition even more special, said Ryan Ruggiero, a real estate negotiator at Metro who worked on the acquisition.
“It’s always been a high-priority site,” he said.
The site also includes Oregon white oaks, Pacific madrones and rare wildflowers. The habitat supports Northern red-legged frogs and a variety of wildlife.
Part of the new acquisition is adjacent to Metro’s Coffee Lake Creek Wetlands, a 233-acre natural area. Metro’s North Coffee Lake Creek Wetlands, a 27-acre natural area, sits a short distance north.
Combined, the area helps connect an important swath of habitat between the Tualatin and Willamette Rivers that native plants and wildlife rely on to safely move between different areas to access food and shelter and to breed.
Initial restoration work at the site will include removing invasive plants, such as Scotch broom, Zonick said.
The new acquisition cost $1 million. The money came from the natural areas bond measure that voters approved in 2006. Metro Parks and Nature works to protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for people to experience nature close to home.
Metro acquires 3 key properties for future Westside Trail extension
Three small but significant Metro acquisitions in late 2016 and early 2017 secured three key segments of a future Westside Trail extension on Bull Mountain in Washington County.
“This is a very important link between different areas that are not linked now except by roads,” said Ryan Ruggiero, a Metro real estate negotiator who worked on the acquisitions.
The Westside Trail is a designated regional trail that will one day link the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland to the Tualatin River through Forest Park, Bethany, Beaverton, Tigard and King City. Most of the Beaverton portion of the trail has already been built, but the rest of the trail is in various stages of land acquisition and planning.
An estimated 185,000 people use the existing trail every year, based on trail counts conducted in 2016. The trail’s popularity is expected to rise as people move into homes under construction now in the nearby River Terrace neighborhood southwest of Beaverton and Tigard.
“A lot of people already use it to commute from Bull Mountain, like people who work at Nike,” Ruggiero said. “Long-term, it’s going to be an important commuter route.”
All three of the recent acquisitions are on Bull Mountain in unincorporated Washington County south of Beaverton and Tigard. The three recent acquisitions are:
- A 1.1-acre site that includes 550 feet of the future trail. The property cost $5,000.
- A 1.15-acre site that includes 810 feet of the future trail. The property cost $75,000. The acquisition secured public ownership of an existing informal paved trail connection that will connect to the future 23-acre Sunrise Park, to be developed by the City of Tigard, and the future 16-acre Cach Nature Park.
- A 1.3-acre trail easement that guarantees public access to a 50-foot section of the future trail. The easement was donated by the Pacific Crest Homeowners Association. The easement secures land needed to bypass an extremely steep slope on the north side of Bull Mountain.
Money for the acquisitions comes from the 2006 natural areas bond measure.