The biggest portion of the 2006 bond measure earmarked $168 million for land acquisition by Metro.
Since acquisitions began under the 2006 bond measure, more than 5,300 acres have been acquired and protected – significantly surpassing the original goal of about 4,000 acres.
Thanks to voters, Metro has been able to protect some of the last swathes of native prairies, wetlands and other valuable habitat – home to rare plants and endangered or threatened fish and wildlife. Other properties fill key gaps in regional trails, providing connections for commuters, bicyclists and joggers.
Every property Metro buys is within one of the specific target areas set out in the bond measure.
Some of the sites are in urban areas, providing opportunities for people to connect with nature close to home. Others are a little outside of urban areas, protecting important habitat types or protecting drinking water for local residents.
The bond measure’s local share program has also allowed cities, counties and parks providers throughout the region to acquire land close to home so people can connect to nature in their backyards.
New natural area near Wapato Lake will protect clean water in the Tualatin River, improve wildlife habitat
In March 2015, Metro acquired 246 acres in the Wapato Lake area northeast of Gaston to help protect clean water in the Tualatin River and improve fish and wildlife habitat.
The new acquisition is actually two large properties, a northern one and a southern one, separated by another large parcel in between. The property is largely bordered by the Tualatin River on the west and will protect more than a mile of the Tualatin River and 1,250 feet of Harris Creek.
“The site is upstream from the Joint Water Commission’s intake, which means that the site plays a role in providing clean drinking water to more than a quarter million residents in Washington County,” said Kathleen Brennan-Hunter, director of Metro Parks and Nature. “Restoring healthy, connected land around rivers and streams has numerous benefits for both urban and rural residents.”
The property also includes significant swathes of wetlands, floodplains and riparian forests that are home to a variety of birds and wildlife.
Metro will take several years to study the site and has no plans to change the site’s existing farm use in the near future.
“We recognize that sites like this are valuable for agricultural uses, and we don’t intend to make any significant changes,” Brennan-Hunter said.
In the short term, crews will begin to mow and treat invasive weeds on the non-farm portions of the property.
The new acquisition cost $1.9 million and was paid for with money from the natural areas bond measure that voters in the region approved in 2006.
3 easements close last gaps in Gresham-Fairview Trail segment
Three small but vital easements secured in late 2014 – one through a residential front yard – closed the last gaps in a segment of the Gresham-Fairview Trail.
Thousands of residents in the area rely on the trail to commute to work, enjoy a leisurely jog or to walk the dog. The first three segments of the Gresham-Fairview Trail were previously built, but rights of way for the fourth segment weren’t completely acquired until Metro secured the recent easements with money from the 2006 natural areas bond measure.
The Gresham-Fairview Trail runs through dense neighborhoods otherwise underserved by trails, said Robert Spurlock, a regional trails planner at Metro. One of the benefits of the Gresham-Fairview Trail is its southern link to the Springwater Corridor, the region’s most popular trail.
“The Gresham-Fairview Trail provides a safe and convenient mode of transportation that costs less than driving,” Spurlock said. “There are so many benefits to having off-street trails, including improved health and higher home values.”
The three easements are all along Northeast 201st Avenue in Gresham. The largest easement guarantees access along a 0.3-acre area just north of Interstate 84. The smallest is just a 0.04-acre portion adjacent to the street.
But the most remarkable might be the 0.08 acres that runs through a residential front yard.
“I can’t remember us having ever done it through a residential front yard,” said Tom Heinicke, the Metro real estate negotiator who secured the easements. “We’ve been trying for all three properties for five or six years.”
The three easements cost a combined $65,000 and are held by the city of Gresham, one of Metro’s many partners on regional trails.
“Now all we have left is segment 5,” said Heinicke, referring to the section between Northeast Sandy Boulevard and Northeast Marine Drive. “We’re pretty optimistic we can complete acquisitions and start building those last two segments so that project we started 25 years ago can be done. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”