Metro has purchased 76 acres in Clackamas County that will complete missing sections of the Cazadero State Trail. The Cazadero connects to the Springwater Corridor Trail, creating linked multi-use paths that will eventually stretch from Portland to Estacada.
The property was a portion of the Salvation Army’s Camp Kuratli, which continues to operate. It cost $850,000 and was paid for by the natural areas bond voters approved in 2006.
The purchase also creates opportunities to protect critical habitat and water quality.
The property is home to a relatively young forest that’s regrown after previous logging, and streams that feed into Deep Creek and the North Fork of Deep Creek. Metro’s conservation work here will focus on maintaining species diversity, tackling invasive plants and managing erosion in order to reduce sediment in the streams.
“Those streams are really important for salmon recovery and other aquatic wildlife,” said Kate Holleran, a Metro scientist who creates conservation plans for newly acquired properties. The new property adds onto the 96 acres of forest and stream that Metro’s owns along the North Fork of Deep Creek.
“When we're able to protect a large piece of land that already has pretty good habitat and we can nudge it into a more resilient condition — it's a wonderful opportunity that our voters give us,” Holleran said
The Cazadero State Trail follows a long-abandoned rail line, but disconnects where trestle bridges once spanned two canyons over Deep Creek. The bridges are cost-prohibitive to rebuild. Metro’s recent property purchase creates the space to build switchbacks to cross the canyons. Switchbacks require more land — a wider corridor — than was previously available.
Like most regional trail projects, this one is made possible through cooperation between public agencies.
“Working together we can get a lot more done than any one agency can on its own,” said Robin Wilcox, who oversees the trails program at Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
Even though the gaps don’t represent a large portion of the overall trail, acquiring them is a significant step toward its completion.
“Sometimes those last bits are the hardest part,” Wilcox said. “This has been a long term effort.”
Dan Moeller, conservation program director at Metro, said that discussions with the previous owner about buying this property spanned two decades. While it will likely be a few years before the trail is completed, Moeller offers big-picture optimism.
“While everyone is excited to see some of the outcomes of these projects, this whole thing is really bigger than us,” Moelller said. “We're just here for a period of time, continuing the work that many people started decades before we showed up. Hopefully generations after us will appreciate it, too.”