When Georgena Moran wanted to go for a hike in the Gorge, she couldn’t find any information about trails she could access with her wheelchair.
That’s when Moran, a project coordinator for Access Recreation, started calling around to various parks providers asking for more information about accessible trails. The result is an online guide she’s creating of regional trails, with photos and videos so that people of varying abilities can decide whether a trail will be accessible for them.
Access Recreation received a boost last week when the organization received a $50,000 Nature in Neighborhoods grant from Metro to further expand the online guide, create new partnerships, and boost outreach and education efforts. The group previously received a $25,000 Nature in Neighborhoods grant.
“It is an opportunity to bring outdoor recreation to people of all abilities,” Moran told the Metro Council at its March 31 meeting. “The solution wasn’t to say what might be usable for a certain group, but actually to provide information that is usable and pertinent to people of abilities, so we all could use our own choice about what we choose to do.”
The Access Recreation project is one of nine trails projects throughout the region that benefited from $500,000 in Nature in Neighborhoods grants that the Metro Council awarded on March 31.
Collectively, the money will pay for planning, construction, signage, habitat restoration along trails, and improving access to trails across the region. The grants are possible thanks to voter investments in the parks and natural areas levy in 2013.
Although individual trails projects previously received Nature in Neighborhoods grants, they were through grants targeting conservation education, capital or restoration projects. This was the first cycle of the popular Nature in Neighborhoods grants earmarked specifically for trails projects.
The grants proved popular, with Metro receiving 18 pre-applications requesting a total $1.2 million, said Holly Van Houten, a community member who served on the selection committee. From that initial pool, the committee invited full applications from 13 applicants before winnowing that to nine projects.
“We brought together our collective expertise for what we thought was a terrific slate of projects,” Van Houten said.
Oregon City received a grant to help with planning for a crucial, one-mile portion of the Oregon City Loop Trail connecting the McLoughlin neighborhood with Canemah Bluff Nature Park.
Joseph Marek, president of the Oregon City Trail Alliance, said he often walks with his 83-year-old mother to Canemah Bluff and enjoys watching the birds and thinking about how the Ice Age floods shaped the landscape.
“Providing the trail connection is so important for people to do active recreation near where they live,” he said.
Councilor Shirley Craddick said that she hopes additional money will be available in the future to provide more Nature in Neighborhoods grants to support local projects. The Metro Council is considering whether to ask voters as early as November to renew the parks and natural areas levy.
“I’m so appreciative and hope we’ll be approaching the voters again this fall and asking them for support,” Craddick said. “We really want to continue this legacy and continue to make this the greatest place.”
The nine projects receiving a combined $500,000 in Nature in Neighborhoods grants are:
The AccessTrails Project - phase 2
Recipient: Access Recreation
Grant Amount: $50,000
Project Partners: Audubon Society of Portland, Clark County Parks, Hillsboro Parks & Recreation, Metro, Independent Living Resources, The Intertwine Alliance, Bureau of Land Management, North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Pacific University School of Occupational Therapy, Portland Parks & Recreation, SWTrails, Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District, City of Tualatin - Parks and Recreation, U.S. Forest Service, West Linn Parks & Recreation
Project Summary: Access Recreation creates online trail maps, descriptions, photos and videos so people of all abilities know whether a regional trail will meet their abilities and expectations before they arrive at the trail. Phase 2 of this project will create new partnerships, double the number of trails mapped and videos produced, and expand education/outreach.
McLoughlin-to-Canemah Trail Plan
Recipient: City of Oregon City
Grant Amount: $25,000
Project Partners: The City of Oregon City (Parks and Recreation, Public Works, and Planning Departments, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, and the Natural Resources Committee), The Oregon City Trail Alliance (OCTA), The Mcloughlin Neighborhood Association, Clackamas County Historical Society
Project Summary: This project will develop a Master Plan for the mile-long McLoughlin-Canemah Trail connection, a crucial segment of the Oregon City Loop Trail, which will connect the Oregon City trail system to the Canemah Bluff Natural Area.
Cedar Creek Trail/Ice Age Tonquin Regional Trail Signage/Wayfinding System
Recipient: City of Sherwood
Grant Amount: $68,045
Project Partners: Sherwood School District, Washington County, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Clean Water Services, City of Tualatin, City of Wilsonville, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Sherwood Mainstreets
Project Summary: The project will provide wayfinding and signage to provide visual cues for the Cedar Creek/Ice Age Tonquin Trail so users can safely access this regional trail when it is constructed in 2017.
Wood Village-Fairview Interceptor Trail
Recipient: City of Wood Village
Grant Amount: $72,610
Project Partners: City of Fairview, The Friends of Fairview, Home Forward and adjacent property owners
Project Summary: This project will build a 1,875’-long, 10'-wide surfaced trail to connect woodlands, wetlands, schools and shopping to residential areas between the end of Bridge Street in the City of Fairview to the city hall property in Wood Village.
Rood Bridge Park Canoe Launch
Recipient: Hillsboro Parks & Recreation
Grant Amount: $100,000
Tualatin River Keepers, Bienestar, Washington County Visitors Association, Western Farm Workers Association (WFWA)
Project Summary: This project will redevelop the existing, unusable watercraft launch at Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro into a safe, user friendly access to the Tualatin River Regional Water Trail for people of varying abilities and backgrounds.
North Johnson Creek Trail Extension
Recipient: Neighbors For Smart Growth
Grant Amount: $33,600
Project Partners: Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD), Providence St. Vincent Hospital, Catlin Gabel School, West Tualatin View School (West TV), Washington County, Clean Water Services, Westside Transportation Alliance, Tualatin River Watershed Council
Project Summary: This project will plan a trail and riparian restoration along North Johnson Creek corridor between SW 90th & 95th Avenues in Washington County.
CCC Shared Use Path
Recipient: Oregon City School District No. 62
Grant Amount: $25,000
Project Partners: City of Oregon City, Clackamas Community College, Clackamas Academy of Industrial Sciences, Greater Oregon City Watershed Council, Caulfield Neighborhood Association
Project Summary: This project will significantly improve and pave an existing gravel pathway between Oregon City High School and Clackamas Community College to become part of the regional trails connection between the Oregon City Loop Trail and the Beaver Lake Trail.
Living Cully Walks Phase 2
Grant Amount: $90,000
Project Partners: Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, Native American Youth & Family Center, Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation, Port of Portland, Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Project Summary: Living Cully Walks Phase 2 will help this low-income neighborhood overcome access barriers to nearby parks, natural areas and the Regional Trail System through wayfinding, bi-lingual youth education and community outreach.
Wisdom Springwater Trail Partnership
Recipient: Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. (Wisdom)
Grant Amount: $35,000
Project Partners: Portland Parks and Recreation, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Zenger Farm, Native American Youth and Family Center, PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions, Ant Farm (Woape), Portland Community Media TV
Project Summary: Wisdom and its diverse partners will develop youth leaders and support local climate initiatives by restoring habitat for native salmon and Pacific lamprey along the Springwater Trail.