Metro’s Parks and Nature Department brings people closer to nature and protects parks and natural areas that provide the region with clean water and healthy fish and wildlife habitat.
Restoration and maintenance: Across the region, restoration projects are significantly improving water quality and the health of habitats that wildlife depend on. Restoration and maintenance work includes controlling invasive weeds, planting native trees and shrubs, removing unnecessary culverts and roads, maintaining existing roads and infrastructure, decommissioning unauthorized trails, improving connections between streams and wetlands, and improving habitat for fish and wildlife.
Access to nature: Projects focus on safety and low-impact improvements at parks, trails and natural areas that provide new ways for visitors to hike, view wildlife, learn about the landscape, unwind from a stressful day, or enjoy a picnic with family or friends. Projects begin with a scientific review and involve extensive conversations with community members.
Park improvements: Park improvement projects are aimed at upgrading aging facilities, improving sustainability features, and enhancing safety and security. Capital improvements such as new restrooms, playgrounds, boat docks and parking enhance the visitor experience at Metro’s developed parks, which attract more than 1.6 million people every year.
Nature education: Money from voter investments allows for expanded nature education programming, including more school field trips, guided nature walks, skill-building programs classes, nature photography classes and other activities.
Volunteer programs: Expanded volunteer programs provide individuals and groups with special connections to nature through a wide variety of tasks. Volunteers remove invasive plants, receive training to lead school field trips, plant native trees and shrubs and more.
Community investments: Altogether over the last 25 years, the public – through Metro – has invested more than $90 million to support a broad range of community nature projects across greater Portland, helping to preserve land, restore habitat, build visitor amenities, expand nature education programs, provide outdoor experiences for historically marginalized communities and more. Nature in Neighborhoods grants support community organizations, nonprofits, watershed councils and other groups. Through the 1995 and 2006 bond measures, $69 million in “local share” money supported local parks providers to use on locally significant projects.
Land acquisition: Land acquisition has enabled Metro 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 bike commuters, hikers and joggers. Since acquisitions began with money from the 2006 bond measure, more than 6,010 acres have been acquired and protected – significantly surpassing the original goal of about 4,000 acres. Every property Metro buys is within one of 27 specific target areas set out in the 2006 bond measure. Metro buys property at market rate and only from willing sellers.
Historic cemeteries: Metro’s 14 historic cemeteries total 66 acres in Multnomah County and provide an important service for families throughout greater Portland. The cemeteries are managed as active facilities, offering scenic tranquility and a unique glimpse into the history of the region’s early settlement. Most were established during the early homesteading period, between 1850 and 1870. The cemeteries are open to visitors and provide opportunities for picnicking and contemplation in a natural setting. Metro’s historic cemeteries are supported with money from the general fund only, though the program is housed in the Parks and Nature department.