As the summer heat gives way little by little, we’re happy to say that more and more parks and nature bond projects are underway.
Each of the 2019 parks and nature bond measure programs is up and running. The last two, capital grants and the large-scale community visions programs, kicked off recently. The rest, after chugging like trains are really starting to speed along. There’s a lot to share about where bond dollars are headed and what they’re accomplishing
Let’s jump in.
Parks and Nature levy and bond updates
Protect and restore land
Contact: Shannon Leary, [email protected]
Metro’s parks and nature real estate team continues its work building relationships with land owners and pursuing opportunities to protect and restore habitat across the region. They are guided by the insights from community members and partners who shared their time and wisdom helping Metro set priorities for land acquisition.
Most recently, Metro purchased a 40-acre property in the Lower Tualatin headwaters target area. The natural area’s springs and forested headwaters help provide cold, clean water and increased summer base flow downstream to the Tualatin River.
The property contains over 3,000 feet of fish habitat in Heaton Creek, which is important spawning and rearing habitat for culturally important native fish, such as coho salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey (important species identified by tribal nations and Indigenous community stakeholders during bond refinement).
This property is the first property in the Heaton Creek watershed to be purchased for conservation by Metro or any other conservation organization, and it will provide a meaningful anchor for future conservation investment in this part of the Lower Tualatin Headwaters target area.
Nature in Neighborhoods capital grants
Contact, Crista Gardner, [email protected]
We’re excited to begin idea collection for the capital grants pilot this fall! Since January, a committee of community members has developed a participatory process that will support the selection of community-led capital projects that benefit historically marginalized communities, protect and improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, support climate resilience, and increase people’s experience of nature at the community scale.
This process will give community members in greater Portland a direct voice in choosing capital projects to recommend for funding.
Working with this capital grants pilot program design and review committee, the capital grants pilot team has created a program guidebook that details the process and grant guidelines. We’ve also launched a request for proposals for a public engagement partner to help implement the participatory process. Both the guidebook and the RFP have been released and are available to the public and potential partners on the program website.
Soon, we will be sharing details about ways you can learn more and participate in this opportunity. In the meantime, here are some capital grants pilot milestones we’re looking forward to for the next several months:
- Idea collection (fall 2022): The idea collection phase includes opportunities for community members to share their passion and lived experience, and to provide an accessible venue for them to share their ideas for what type of projects that should be created. This is also an opportunity to provide general education on the process, the funding and what the process hopes to accomplish, as well as to recruit participants for engagement in subsequent phases.
- Project development (winter–spring 2023): The project development phase takes ideas submitted during the idea collection phase and refines them into complete project proposals including scope, budget, and schematic design for the community to choose among during the community vote phase.
- Community vote (spring 2023): The community vote is the step in the process in which all eligible members of the public, as determined by the program design and review committee and outlined in the guidebook, vote on which projects they would like to see implemented.
Take care of Metro parks
Contact: Melissa Bergstrom, [email protected]
The first phase of bond-funded work to renovate and improve health, safety and accessibility at Blue Lake Regional Park will become much more visible over the next few months. After Labor Day, the concession building, boat house, park office, lake house and auxiliary buildings will come down. The park will remain open throughout the demo work.
Just outside the park, in Blue Lake Road, new water pipeline is being installed to enable connecting the park to Fairview’s municipal water system. The demolition and infrastructure work this fall is setting the foundation for future improvements.
Walking and biking trails
Contact: Robert Spurlock, [email protected]
Work continues to finish a proposed list of trail planning and construction projects submitted by jurisdictions across the region for up to $20 million in competitive grants funded by the parks and nature bond. These projects are designed to strengthen the region’s walking and biking trail network and to address the parks and nature bond criteria of advancing racial equity, climate resilience and community engagement. This project list has been shaped and reviewed by local jurisdictions, trail advocates and members of the public over the last several months as part of the regional flexible funds process, which distributes federal transportation dollars to transportation projects across the region.
The Metro Council will be considering and voting to approve on the recommended list of awards at the end of September.
Contact: Melissa Bergstrom, [email protected]
The City of Tualatin approved using its local share funds, totaling $1.5 million, to purchase a 6.69-acre property in the Basalt Creek Canyon expansion area. The property will provide wildlife habitat and access to nature for community members who would otherwise have no parks nearby.
Previous community engagement in Tualatin has identified the need for parkland in the area, and future engagement with community members will inform the development of park facilities and features.
Large scale community visions
Contact: [email protected]
Funding is now available for large-scale community visions projects. The first cycle will provide up to $10 million in grants.
Metro’s large-scale community visions grant program supports innovative capital projects that bring together nature, job opportunities, affordable housing and safe transportation. As greater Portland grows, experiences a housing crisis and feels the effects of climate change, it becomes clearer and clearer that these challenges must be faced together. Through the large-scale community visions program, Metro will support projects anywhere in greater Portland that inspire new ways to meet these challenges.
Among other requirements, eligible projects must have a budget of more than $6 million, including at least $2 million dedicated to habitat restoration.
Check out the program’s handbook for more details.
Natural Areas Oversight Committee
The Natural Areas and Capital Program Performance Oversight Committee will have its next meeting on September 27. The focus of the meeting will be to hear an update on bond progress as well as tools for measuring and evaluating the impact of bond programs and investments. The meeting details can be found here.