Restoration and maintenance work includes controlling weeds, planting native trees and shrubs, removing unnecessary or harmful culverts and roads, maintaining existing roads and infrastructure, decommissioning unauthorized trails, improving connections between streams and wetlands, and strengthening habitat for fish and wildlife.
After Metro acquires a property, a stabilization plan is drawn up. Stabilization is like the renovation process for a fixer-upper home: it’s a lot of big projects to create a livable habitat. Invasive weeds start getting treated, and dilapidated buildings, septic systems and other structures are removed. This initial work is paid for with money from the 2019 natural areas bond measure.
After a site is stable, a site conservation plan is developed to identify the most important actions to improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. A site stewardship plan is also developed to detail weed treatments and maintenance of fence lines, signs and more. Restoration work – often supported with money from the levy – can take years or even decades to complete, after which a site transitions to long-term maintenance.
Metro’s parks and nature local option levy, first passed in 2013, and then renewed in 2016 and again in 2022, provides money to complete weed assessments across Metro’s entire portfolio.
Decommissioning an old logging road at Ennis Creek Forest
Restoration is an ongoing learning process that can offer valuable takeaways for informing future projects. Metro keeps track of the tools and techniques that have worked in other initiatives, hoping that they can be useful to future projects like Ennis Creek Forest.
During the 2019 restoration and decommissioning of logging roads at McCarthy Creek Forest Natural Area, which lies just up the road in the North Tualatin Mountains, Metro discovered several approaches that are being applied at Ennis Creek Forest.
Andrea Berkely, a natural resource scientist at Metro, will be using one of those successful methods to stabilize the stream banks and capture micro-particles of sediment so downstream water stays clean. She plans on laying down coconut coir mats, which resemble rough-fibered, tightly woven fishing nets. The mats hold juncus, a grass-like plant, which will send its roots into the steep stream banks and keep the soil in place.
Andrea says juncus’ tiny, needle-like leaves are amazingly effective at speeding up the healing process, especially at stream headwaters. “Headwaters, where the stream begins, are underappreciated in our stream networks,” she says. “Pound-for-pound, headwaters are so important for controlling stream sediment and nutrition downstream.”
From "End of the road at Ennis Creek Forest."