This newsletter was started to update you on the process of taking the 2019 parks and nature bond legislation and turning it into successful programs. All six of the bond’s programs are now up and running. Local share started distributing funds to park providers in 2021, and long-needed updates at Blue Lake Regional Park began that year; last year, the regional trails and protect and restore land programs each established their property acquisition roadmaps and the Metro Council awarded trail grant funds to 12 trail projects across the region; and the large-scale community visions and capital grants teams finished the planning work for their unique, new programs. With the Nature in Neighborhoods community choice grants launching soon, more on them below, bond refinement is done, as is this newsletter.
But bond refinement was just the opening stage of Parks and Nature’s decade-long work to make good on the promises Metro made to the people of greater Portland when voters approved the bond. We’ll continue to share stories about that work on Metro News, in Our Big Backyard and on social media, as we always have. And you can keep find quarterly updates on bond spending, program accomplishments and investments at the bond dashboard. We hope you keep reading and keep engaging.
We’re always looking at how we get the word out about Parks and Nature’s work, especially when there are opportunities for community members to shape a project or program. To do that the best we can, we’d like to ask you for a quick favor. Could you fill out this short survey? We promise it will take less than two minutes, and it would be a huge help for us.
And if you’d like to share your thoughts about the newsletter, what it did well, what type of info you wished it provided, or any other helpful insights, please send those to [email protected]
Parks and Nature bond updates
To find out more about how Metro has been putting tax dollars to use as bond programs were launching, check out the Parks and Nature Annual Report 2021–22. The report covers the fiscal year between July 2021 and June 2022. Along with tracking spending from the 2019 parks and nature bond measure, the annual report shows how money from the Parks and Nature local option levy and the last of the 2006 parks and nature bond measure was used.
Here are few highlights from the fiscal year between July 2021 and June 2022:
- Chehalem Ridge and Newell Creek Canyon nature parks opened
- Metro added 240 acres to its portfolio of over 15,000 acres of natural areas purchased by the 1995 and 2006 natural areas bond measure
- Metro completed 51 planting projects
- 126 habitat and water improvement projects were underway
- Nine Nature in Neighborhoods community stewardship and restoration grants awarded totaling $700,000
Protect and restore land
Contact: Shannon Leary, [email protected]
Over the past few months, the protect and restore land program made a pair of purchases that show how even a small piece of land can make a mighty impact. One is a .75-acre lot whose purchase means Beaver Creek, a tributary of the Sandy River, is now covered by the South Beaver Creek Greenway Natural Area from Stark Street to Cochran Road. That’s roughly 9,800 feet of stream.
On the other side of the region, just outside of Wilsonville, a 3.6-acre purchase linked together three natural areas to create 350 acres of contiguous land (crossed by a couple of roads) now managed by Metro. The purchase is the latest in a string of acquisitions that go back to 1997, right after the first Metro greenspaces bond was approved by voters. The natural area was quilted together over 25 years.
This work is all made possible thanks to voters and the invaluable insights from Indigenous community members, conservation scientists, park providers and our partners across the region.
These purchases bring the total to 386 acres purchased with 2019 bond funds through 11 acquisitions with several more in the pipeline.
Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants
Contact: Crista Gardner, [email protected]
The Nature in Neighborhoods grants team has launched one grant program and is about to launch another.
Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants are open and taking applications for projects across greater Portland. These grants are for land acquisitions, urban transformations, restoration projects and neighborhood livability. The resulting capital asset (park, property, building, habitat, etc.) must be publicly owned, however partnerships and collaboration are key to successful projects and non-government organizations can apply for funding.
The capital grants program has helped support some of the region’s most beloved places and spaces including Gresham’s Nadaka Nature Park, Portland’s Cully Park, Milwaukie’s riverfront park, Tigard’s Bull Mountain park and countless others. As with the capital grants program from the 2006 natural areas bond, we anticipate several rounds of grant solicitations in future years. We look forward to having conversations with you and your teams about projects that may be ready for this solicitation or may be better suited for future rounds.
Initial applications are due February 14 and please reach out to Crista Gardner, [email protected] with any questions.
The 2019 parks and nature bond measure is also providing up to $4 million in a pilot program called Nature in Neighborhoods community choice grants. This is the program we’ve shared updates on over the past two years. The grants team, along with community partners and the invaluable community members of the program design and review committee, have created an innovative grant program that will collect ideas for capital projects from the people of greater Portland, work with community members to develop those ideas into viable projects, and then put those projects up for two rounds of voting by everyone in the region 12 years or older. The pilot will be for projects in Metro Council District 4, or western Washington county, which includes Beaverton, Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove and the communities around highways 8 and 217.
It's an exciting pilot. Look for its launch on Metro’s website and social media.
Take care of Metro parks
Contact: Melissa Bergstrom, [email protected]
Out at Oxbow Regional Park, work has begun to create a more accessible connection to the Sandy River. At the bottom of the boat launch, a small parking lot with two accessible parking spaces will provide easier access to the river. The ramp for the boat launch is particularly steep and this project will allow people to park at the bottom of the hill.
The project is part of Metro’s efforts to make parks more accessible and ensure we are meeting accessibility requirements.
Along with the parking spaces, the project includes an accessible seating area with a view of the river. Construction is expected to begin this spring
Over at Blue Lake Regional Park, demolition of most of the old and degraded structures is complete. This work, along with a new water pipe that will connect the park to Fairview’s water and sanitation, is preparing the park for future improvement to park amenities that will be guided by input from community members.
Natural Areas and Capital Program Performance Oversight Committee
Contact: Beth Cohen, [email protected]
The Natural Areas and Capital Program Performance Oversight Committee met this past December to discuss committee goals for calendar year 2023 and to review initial work on tracking progress to climate resilience criteria. The next committee meeting will be on February 23. Please visit this page for an agenda and more meeting details in the coming weeks.