A recent 100-acre acquisition in the Clackamas River Bluffs will allow Metro to protect a diversity of plants and wildlife, upland forest and scenic views and has the potential to offer future recreational opportunities.
With timber prices high, the former land owners were preparing to harvest the conifer forest, said Ryan Ruggiero, the Metro real estate negotiator who worked on the acquisition. Metro’s acquisition ensures that will never happen. It also safeguards 1,600 feet of a seasonal stream – on both sides – flowing into Richardson Creek.
The new site borders Metro’s Clackamas Bluff Natural Area to the east, Clackamas County’s Madrone Wall Park to the west and a conservation easement held by Columbia Land Trust to the south. The new acquisition brings the total uninterrupted protected area to nearly 260 acres.
“Securing a property of this size in an important corridor of publicly-owned conservation lands is exciting,” Ruggiero said.
The site features mixed upland forest of Douglas fir and grand fir – some approaching old-growth size – along with oak trees and a sprinkling of Pacific madrones. This type of forest is increasingly rare in the region.
“It’s 100 acres that already has a complex older forest growing on it,” said Kate Holleran, a senior natural resources scientist at Metro. “A lot of times we buy younger forest and have to wait 100 to 200 years to get that forest back.”
Holleran says the forest is in really good condition, and initial restoration work will focus on removing invasive species like ivy and holly. The biggest challenge will be to prevent the spread of invasive false brome, a grass native to Europe and North Africa.
“The invasive species simplify the complexity and diversity of a healthy forest,” Holleran said. ”We lose habitat and native species.”
Some 263 wildlife species like the pileated woodpecker, pygmy owl and black bear can be found in upland conifer forests. “Making sure they have habitat close to our communities helps protect the biodiversity of our region,” Holleran said.
Both people and wildlife stand to benefit from the clean water and natural habitat that a large protected area creates. There’s great possibility for recreation on the site as well, though there is no formal access at this time.
The acquisition cost $1.1 million and was paid for with money from the 2006 voter-approved natural areas bond measure. The property is located north of Highway 224 and south of Southeast Curtis Road in Clackamas County.