Tales From The Trails:

Spring in Forest Park: New Projects, Plans and Progress

Spring in Forest Park: New Projects, Plans and Progress

While it’s hard to think about with all the snow and rain we’ve had this year, spring is the time of new beginnings when the natural world starts to come back to life. For Forest Park, this season also brings many new projects that will benefit both the ecological health of the park and its users. I want to take this opportunity to share updates with you and welcome your comments and thoughts.

Trails

This year’s snow and record rainfall resulted in fallen trees, landslides and trail closures throughout Forest Park. More than 500 trees fell and sections of popular trails were impacted by slides and weather-related conditions, including Lower Macleay and Wildwood Trails.

To help address the storm-related damage, we’re planning numerous trail projects this spring and summer, including:

  • Repairing trail blowouts (when a trail is completely demolished as a result of being washed away or a landslide)
  • Fixing severe tread damage to several trails
  • Repairing and replacing damaged culverts

FPC will be working on these projects in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation to help restore the park and ensure users are safe and able to enjoy the wonderful recreational opportunities that Forest Park provides.

Bridges

We’re excited that some long awaited large projects will be taking place this summer on two of our favorite trails, thanks to funding from the voter-supported Parks Replacement Bond!

Two bridges on Lower Macleay Trail and one bridge on the Wildwood Trail will be replaced, and upgrades to the Lower Macleay Trail will make it safer and decrease erosion that impacts Balch Creek, home to native cutthroat trout. Also, after many years of being closed, the Maple Bridge will be replaced and the trail will open in early fall!

I know how hard it is when your favorite trails are closed, but we do ask that you respect these closures and please stay off these trails while work is happening. Using these trails when they are closed causes more damage and increases the amount of work that has to be done to fix trails that are under repair or are in process of being improved. You can find more information here.

Removing Invasive Plants

One of Forest Park’s most important benefits is to help provide clean air and water, and make Portland’s environment more resilient in the face of climate change and rapid urban growth. A big part of a healthy Forest Park is invasive species removal. We are currently working together with Portland Parks on a 15-year plan to get rid of invasive species and restore Forest Park’s native habitat.

As part of that effort, additional portions of the Balch Creek restoration project will launch this fall. We’ve already cleared more than 200 acres of ivy in the Balch Creek watershed to help encourage the re-establishment of native plants and wildlife. Projects have also begun in North Forest Park. To learn more about the “Restore” initiative and partners involved in these projects, click here.

Entrance and Nature Center

There is a proposal for a new Entrance and Nature Center on the corner of NW Yeon and Kittridge Avenues. This will be a great opportunity to create an official park entrance and provide resources for people to learn about the park’s history, ecology and how to be good stewards of Forest Park. Portland Parks & Recreation is currently embarking on an extensive planning process for the entrance and nature center.

The building will have a modest ‘footprint.’ There will be restrooms, parking, and a short wheelchair accessible nature trail. There will also be one or two classrooms and a small educational exhibit space. I encourage you to go to the Portland Parks & Recreation website to learn more, ask questions, and comment on this project. 

Culverts

This summer, Portland Parks & Recreation and the Bureau of Environmental Services are working together to improve the infrastructure and watershed health in Forest Park. Three culverts will be replaced and one additional roadway repair will be made on Leif Erikson Drive. Construction on Leif Erikson will take place between mid-July and November. There will be periodic closures while this work is completed. Leif Erikson is not only important for recreation and park maintenance, but it provides critical access for emergency vehicles in Forest Park. Maintaining the culverts will ensure there is emergency access to the park and improve nearby waterways to support Forest Park’s ecological health.

Off-Road Cycling Master Plan

The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has been leading a plan to develop an Off-Road Cycling Master Plan for the entire city. Included in this process is an evaluation of sites for pump parks, training sites, and mountain biking trails. I know the issue of off-road cycling in Forest Park is a concern to many of our readers, both pro and con. FPC sits on the Public Advisory Committee along with other community groups and local leaders. While the City of Portland is charged with making the final decision, FPC will provide input with respect to FPC's mission throughout the process.  Click here to read about FPC’s position on off-road cycling in Forest Park.

At this time, the committee is just beginning to consider possibilities for Forest Park. There are no formal proposals ‘on the table’ right now. It’s important to note that in order for the City to either build a new trail or shift the use of an existing trail, the project would have to go through an extensive, rigorous environmental assessment and review to ensure the change would not harm Forest Park’s ecological health or compromise user safety.

Click here to keep informed about this issue, attend one of the planned meetings in April when the City is asking for public comments, or to attend the advisory committee meetings.

Outside of Forest Park

To restore Forest Park, we must work both inside and outside of its boundaries. That’s why FPC works in collaboration with West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District to help private landowners adjacent to the park remove tree ivy from their property. This goes a long way in protecting Forest Park by removing invasive plants that can re-invade areas if left unchecked.

Since this program was established, we have removed tree ivy from approximately 20,000 trees. A big thank you goes to landowners who have participated and helped spread the word to their neighbors about invasive species removal. To find out more, or to participate, click here.

All of our work inside and outside of Forest Park is a part of our 20-year vision to restore and protect the entire Forest Park ecosystem. Through the Greater Forest Park Conservation Initiative (GFPCI), we are building partnerships to restore Forest Park and maintain its trails. We are also working to restore the 10,000 acres of public and private land surrounding the park. Our goal is to ensure that Forest Park is as healthy as possible and the Portland’s air and water and natural habitat is protected for current and future generations.

Thank you!

Most importantly, I want to tell you how much we appreciate your overwhelming dedication, love and passion for Forest Park. Whether you are a volunteer, a donor, a corporate sponsor or government partner, caring for this amazing natural treasure is a huge endeavor and we could not make progress without you. Each of us has a role to play and I thank you for doing your part to help restore and protect Forest Park, both now and in the future.

If you want to support our work, I invite you to make a donation to the Forest Park Conservancy today. We have a lot of work ahead of us and every gift helps us reach our goals. Thank you again for your support!





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