Metro is under contract to purchase a 12-acre site in Oregon City that will provide a convenient future entryway into Newell Creek Canyon.
The property sits on Fox Lane just east of Molalla Avenue. The site will likely provide parking and trailhead improvements to launch visitors into the 215-acre canyon that’s home to deer, herons, owls, and towering firs, maples and cedars.
“It’s important because it provides an access to the site that’s far superior to what we had before,” said Kathleen Brennan-Hunter, the natural areas program director for Metro. “It makes a lot more possible than what we had before.”
Metro is not disclosing the sale price, pending the scheduled closing of the sale next month. The regional government agency only buys properties from willing sellers at fair market value.
Money for the purchase comes from the voter-approved 2006 natural areas bond measure. Large portions of the canyon were previously purchased with money from the 1995 natural areas bond measure.
Yet, the canyon has largely sat inaccessible to the public for years, despite boasting some of the region’s most spectacular wildlife and scenery.
That’s changing now thanks to the parks and natural areas levy that voters approved last year.
Community members and planners in April launched a months-long interactive process to shape the future of the canyon. More than 100 people attended a spring open house and shared their dreams and visions for the canyon.
The next community planning meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Pioneer Community Center in Oregon City. Participants will discuss the comments and ideas received so far as well as future opportunities for conservation, recreation and education.
“No final decisions have been made yet,” Brennan-Hunter said. “We want to look at what the public wants.”
The planning process will also tackle the many challenges at the canyon, which houses litter, unauthorized trails and people without homes.
With input from two more public planning meetings, Metro staff expect to emerge next spring or summer with a plan for the future of Newell Creek Canyon. The natural area is slated to officially open in 2016.