Community investments support a variety of projects: community stewardship and restoration, nature education, outdoor experiences, land acquisition, capital improvements, park amenities and more. Altogether over the last quarter century years, the public – through Metro – has invested more than $100 million to support a broad range of community nature projects across the region, helping to preserve land, restore habitat, expand access and more.
In the fall of 2022, Metro awarded $20 million for trails projects across the region. This one-time infusion of funds from the 2019 parks and nature bond will support 12 projects, most of which focus on building new sections to existing trails and linking trails across the regional trails system.
The bond also provides $30 million for the large-scale community visions program. The program provides catalytic investments – essentially a big boost – for projects that increase access to nature for people across greater Portland or improve the resilience of the region’s urban natural areas. In May, the Metro Council committed to providing up to $10 million for three major parks and nature projects: the acquisition of a large tract of forest by the Trust for Public land and Oregon State University; development of the waterfront education park that is part of OMSI’s neighborhood on the Willamette River; and helping Albina Vision Trust purchase properties in the Albina District.
Since 1995, each of the natural areas and parks bonds have included a “local share” program that allocates funds directly to local park providers for parks and restoration projects that matter to their communities. Throughout 2020, the 2019 bond measure’s $92 million local share program was redeveloped to include the new bond’s focus on racial equity and meaningful community engagement and since then, the region’s park providers have been working with their communities to identify priority projects for these funds.
The City of Tualatin used their funds to purchase a natural area, part of which will be developed into a park. Another Metro-funded project, Plambeck Gardens, funded by the affordable housing bond, is taking shape just across the street. Tualatin’s purchase is a great example of how the 2019 parks and nature bond measure’s racial equity and community engagement criteria guide decision making.
This fiscal year saw Metro take its grant-making to a new level with the pilot for the Nature in Neighborhoods community choice grants. This program puts community members in the lead to imagine, design and choose the parks and nature projects they want to see in their communities. The pilot grant cycle began in spring of 2023 and more than 100 ideas were shared by community members. Two community votes in the fall will decide which projects are funded.
Community choice grants kicks off new program
Dozens of community members gathered on a cloudy Saturday morning at Hillsboro’s Shute Park Library to help change the future of their neighborhood’s outdoor areas.
People, young and old, recorded stories about how they engage with nature and reflected on outdoor spaces that brought them joy. Others chatted with landscape architects while placing sticky notes and smiley faces (or frowns) on images of pollinator gardens, accessible spaces and other natural areas, indicating their favored types of projects. And a kids table, littered with miniature trees, sticks, pinecones, wooden figurines and corks, participants built pint-size dream parks that may one day become real places.
The gathering was the first of two in-person idea-generating workshops for Metro’s Nature in Neighborhoods community choice grants, a long-awaited participatory grantmaking project that gives community members a direct say in shaping the parks and natural areas in their communities.
Through the community choice grants process, which will run through several stages over the next year, up to $2 million will be awarded throughout Washington County’s District 4 for parks and nature projects imagined and chosen by the people who live there.
From: "Community choice grants kickoff."
City of Tualatin purchases natural area and future park with Local Share dollars
The City of Tualatin hopes a new natural area will provide future residents and businesses of the 367-acre Basalt Creek expansion with access to the outdoors, create wildlife habitats and bring ecological benefits to the entire rea. And they’re hoping future residents are the ones who help design the outdoor space.
Basalt Creek Canyon, the natural area within the expansion, is a 6.7-acre property stretching from Boones Ferry Road up and into the eponymous canyon.
Tualatin purchased the property with funds from Metro’s 2019 parks and nature bond measure. The bond’s local share program provides funding for cities and parks districts in the region to make investments in nature that matter to their local communities. Tualatin Hills Park and Rec District is using its funds on three park projects, while the City of Gresham purchased a forest that community members rallied to protect.
The canyon itself is an ancient geological formation created by volcanoes and is shaded by evergreen trees along the western edge. The natural area will not only provide access to nature, Tualatin parks and nature director Ross Hoover said, but creates an opportunity to connect across the canyon in a way that previously did not exist.
“Part of our duty is to ensure that connectivity, whether as a wildlife corridor or for people to connect and cross through,” Hoover said. “Metro local share dollars really provide that opportunity to create lasting and enduring connections.”
From: "Tualatin buys natural area with Metro bond funds."