Last month Metro acquired 25 acres of land in Clackamas County as part of the Protect and Restore Land program funded by the voter-approved 2019 parks and nature bond measure. While the property has most recently been used as farmland, it was originally a type of habitat that has become rare in the Willamette Valley: wet prairie.
“Historically, wet prairies were common throughout the Willamette Valley and were maintained by wildfire and hydrology and by periodic burning by Indigenous people,” said Metro conservation program director Dan Moeller. “Wet prairies are typically found in areas with rich, clay soils that are seasonally flooded. European settlers stopped that natural process so they could convert the rich soil into agricultural land. Now Metro has a chance to restore to the Clear Creek watershed the benefits a wet prairie can provide: water storage and filtration, access to first foods, and habitat for native plants and animals.”
The $300,000 purchase northeast of Oregon City adds to Metro’s 133-acre Clear Creek North Natural Area, creating a wildlife corridor and extending it toward nearby protected lands.
Metro purchased the parcel on June 22. Parks and Nature staff are now beginning to plan the site’s restoration. Metro staff typically study a property for several seasons to better understand it prior to making final plans, but restoration actions may include removing invasive plant species, strengthening a remnant population of camas in the northeast corner of the property, replacing existing fences with wildlife-friendly alternatives, and establishing a shaded riparian corridor along the creek.
Reestablishing wetlands is critical for mitigating against natural disasters. For example, they reduce the impact of floods on neighboring communities by providing safe, spongy ground that absorbs excess water and releases it slowly into streams and rivers.
When the work is completed, the area could become home to some native species that thrive in wet prairie, including ground-nesting birds like Western meadowlark and Oregon vesper sparrow.
This is the 14th land acquisition purchased with funding from the 2019 parks and nature bond, which has protected a total of 530 acres acquired across 12 target areas identified by the bond and its refinement plan.
Learn more about the voter-approved 2019 parks and nature bond.