Surrounded by Oregon City neighborhoods and Clackamas Community College, the voter-protected natural area has a loyal following. It provides spectacular scenery and wildlife habitat - from its namesake creek to groves of Western red cedar trees, from deer to red-legged frogs.
But Newell Creek Canyon also faces challenges, including transient encampments, littering and unauthorized trails. Until recently, Metro didn't have resources to plan for the future.
In 2013, voters across the region approved a levy that allows Metro to care for and improve places like Newell Creek Canyon. The community is invited to weigh in on how Metro should protect habitat at the natural area while making it a fun, safe destination for visitors.
Newell Creek Canyon has been a community project from the beginning. Determined to prevent development that could damage the watershed, neighbors helped campaign for Metro’s 1995 bond measure to protect nature across the Portland metropolitan area. The bond measure passed, and Metro swiftly began buying land. Over the course of two bond measures and nearly two decades, Newell Creek Canyon Natural Area expanded to 215 acres.
The Greater Oregon City Watershed Council launched a major restoration project in 2012, in partnership with Oregon City, Metro and the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District. Together, they're controlling invasive plants and replacing them with species that belong in a Pacific Northwest forest.
People don’t realize what a treasure they have at Newell Creek Canyon, says Rita Baker, coordinator of the watershed council. "When you drive up 213, you see, ‘Oh, look at all the pretty trees.’ But you don’t really understand that, at the bottom, is a creek."