Since Metro’s parks and natural areas program began in the 1990s, there hasn’t been a year like the last one to show why it’s so critical that voters have called on Metro to protect clean water, restore fish and wildlife habitat and provide access to nature for communities across the region.
Late summer 2020 brought devastating wildfires, and then early summer 2021 held record-shattering high temperatures. Extremely hot weather strains habitats, putting trees at risk of dying from heat stress, which in turn exposes other plants and animals to more risk from heat and catastrophic fires. Metro’s conservation work helps strengthen natural areas to better withstand hotter temperatures and keep streams and rivers cool to protect salmon, lamprey, other native fish – and people.
Metro’s parks have always been a refuge to people seeking the physical, mental and spiritual boosts offered by spending time in the outdoors. That’s only more true during this long pandemic. Whether it’s hiking Mount Talbert Nature Park, swimming at Broughton Beach, admiring prairies of wildflowers at Cooper Mountain Nature Park, trying out disc gold at Blue Lake Regional Park, or sitting at a picnic bench at Orenco Woods Nature Park, Metro’s parks provide a place near home to drink in nature in any way a person wants.
All of this is possible thanks to voter investments. Voters renewed a local-option levy that pays for restoration, maintenance and operations at Metro’s parks and natural areas through June 2023. And in 2019, voters approved a $475 million bond measure to fund capital investments at parks and natural areas.
The bond measure supports land purchases and restoration, Metro park improvements, Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants, local parks and nature projects, walking and biking trails and large-scale community projects.
In July 2020, Metro Council signed off on a bond framework – a roadmap for developing the six programs in the 2019 parks and nature bond measure. Since then, Metro has worked with community members, partner organizations, local park providers and others to implement the bond measure to achieve regional goals for clean water, habitat protection, climate resilience, access to nature, racial equity and community engagement.
The work is guided by the Parks and Nature System Plan, a long-term strategic plan and framework, and the Parks and Nature Department’s Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. The action plan, completed in late 2018, comprises more than 80 actions aimed at improving economic, environmental and cultural equity. These actions focus on connecting communities of color to resources; providing more equitable access to safe, welcoming parks, trails and natural areas; and helping people of color connect with nature and one another in the region's parks and nature system.
During the past year, Metro has continued to purchase land to steward as natural areas, it launched a new local share program that funds capital projects that matter to local communities, it put the finishing touches on two nature parks – Newell Creek Canyon and Chehalem Ridge – and, because of voters investing in nature and the future of this region, its done even more.
The impacts of current investments can be seen on the ground, with cleaner water, healthier habitats, and new opportunities to enjoy parks and nature.
Learn more about how your tax dollars were spent from July 2020 to June 2021.