Community investments support a variety of projects: community stewardship and restoration, nature education, outdoor experiences, land acquisition, capital improvements, visitor amenities and more. Altogether over the last 25 years, the public – through Metro – has invested nearly $100 million to support a broad range of community nature projects across the region, helping to preserve land, restore habitat, expand access and more.
Since 1995, each of the natural areas and parks bonds have included a “local share” program that allocates funds directly to local park providers for parks and restoration projects that matter to their communities. Throughout 2020, the $92 million local share program was redeveloped to include the new bond measure’s focus on racial equity and meaningful community engagement and since then, the region’s park providers have been working with their communities to identify priority projects for these funds.
Gresham was the first city to put its local share dollars to work. Community members around Grant Butte had organized to protect an 8-acre stand of trees on the slope of the butte. “Our community was very, very clear in making their voices heard,” said City Councilor Eddie Morales, “We hadn’t seen this kind of mobilization. It was from a diverse set of communities: Latinos, Black, AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander).”
The city’s $2.45 million in local share funds were used to purchase the property, adding it to a complex of Metro and City of Gresham properties on the butte and surrounding wetlands.
In fall 2021, the Metro Council awarded nine grants totaling $700,000.
These grants supported projects that will create community gardens, restore creeks and other habitats, re-green concrete spaces and support STEM education for children of color and children of families with low incomes. The grants are funded by the parks and natural areas local option levy
Nine Nature in Neighborhoods grants in 2021
Metro Council awarded nine Nature in Neighborhoods grants worth $700,000 for projects that improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, create and deepen partnerships between community institutions and organizations, and address racial inequities in the conservation movement.
This round of Metro’s Nature in Neighborhoods community stewardship and restoration grants supported projects that will create community gardens, restore creeks and other habitats, re-green concrete spaces and support STEM education for children of color and children of families with low incomes.
“Funding [went to] projects designed to support the needs of communities of color with an emphasis on building transformational partnerships for the future and more diverse conservation workforce and leaders,” said Mychal Tetteh, community services director in Metro’s parks and nature department.
The grants are funded by voters who approved the renewal of the parks and natural areas levy measure in November 2016. This year, Metro received 32 applications that requested funding for projects totaling $2.2 million. Racial equity criteria have guided the grant program since 2018.
The review committee included local experts in nature education, outdoor experiences, cultural programs, racial equity and related fields. The committee rewarded proposals that leveraged thoughtful, authentic partnerships and collaboration between organizations.
“The committee was very happy to see proposals done by and with BIPOC communities, rather than for them,” said Jude Perez, a grant review committee member. BIPOC means Black, Indigenous and other people of color. “We noticed that even if a project isn’t led by BIPOC organizations, you can really tell which proposals were influenced by strong BIPOC leadership and BIPOC partnerships.
”From “Metro awards $700k for community stewardship grants”