More than 1,000 people move to greater Portland every month. As the region grows, so too does the need to protect clean water, restore fish and wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for people to enjoy nature close to home.
Over the past quarter century, voters have passed two bond measures that allowed Metro to create a unique regional park system with nature at its heart – and two levies to care for it. Today, Metro cares for more than 17,000 acres of parks, trails and natural areas.
June 2018 marked the end of funding from the original parks and natural areas levy voters approved in 2013. Thanks to voters who approved a levy renewal, funding has been extended to June 2023.
The levy renewal supports restoration work, such as tackling invasive weeds and restoring habitat for endangered wildlife. It supports nature education classes, volunteer opportunities and other activities – many developed with community partners. It also supports park improvements and operations – the people and places that welcome more than 1.6 million visitors each year to hike forest trails, play on riverside beaches and enjoy lakeside picnics.
The levy complements the 2006 natural areas bond measure, which is winding down after a dozen years. The need, however, continues. Metro is starting to explore the possibility of referring a third bond measure to voters, perhaps in 2019, that could support continued investments in protecting land, improving parks and natural areas and supporting community projects.
Future work will continue to be guided by the Parks and Nature System Plan, a long-term strategic plan and framework for the future of the regional network.
It will also be guided by Metro Parks and Nature Department’s Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. People of color, low-income residents and other historically marginalized groups continue to face barriers to accessing nature. The action plan comprises more than 80 actions – some multi-year, department-wide undertakings, others short-term, discrete tasks – that work toward Metro’s racial equity goals. The actions also drive to three desired outcomes: economic equity, environmental equity and cultural equity.
As Metro begins crafting a potential bond measure, input from community members and partners will be crucial in helping ensure the benefits of clean water, healthy habitat and access to nature can be enjoyed by all of the region’s residents.
To see the impacts of current investments and the opportunities ahead, listen to the stories on the ground. Learn more about how your tax dollars were spent from July 2017 to June 2018 to plan for new parks, protect sensitive land, provide for nature classes and events – and much more.