Spring Park Natural Area restores habitats for wildlife and improves access for people

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The North Clackamas Park and Recreation District’s Spring Park Natural Area is located on the Willamette River in the city of Milwaukie. Nestled next to the river, this park is a gem of wilderness in the heart of an urban area. This natural area is a biodiversity hotspot and contains some of the only backchannel floodplain on this section of the Willamette.

NCPRD and partner agencies are restoring multiple habitats at Spring Park, along with improving access and trails for visitors with $25,000 from PGE’s Habitat Support customers. Much of the work focuses on an alcove at the northern end of the park, which is tidally influenced as it sits just 19 river miles from the confluence with the Columbia River. This one-acre alcove receives full backchannel flow from the river during the wet months and remains connected to the river the rest of the year, making it an important refuge for fish and other wildlife. Placement of large woody debris in stream and re-vegetation of the alcove banks are necessary to restore the site to a healthier functioning floodplain with diverse structure, and cooler, cleaner water.

In addition to the improvement of wildlife habitat, this project is improving access for park visitors by relocating an existing trail and wildlife viewing overlook near the alcove to keep feet drier and out of sensitive areas. The trail relocation moves visitors out of wetter areas and off an often-flooded path, encouraging traffic in a more focused area. This will reduce soil compaction and erosion and de-vegetation of the riparian habitat. New interpretive and directional signs, volunteer and public education events and monitoring of plants and wildlife are also part of the Spring Park master plan to maintain benefits for wildlife and visitors in the natural area.

Tonia Burns, Natural Resource Coordinator for NCPRD, says the project is good for wildlife, good for visitors and also important because of its geographical location. “This area creates a natural reserve that is sorely needed along this stretch of the lower Willamette. It is not only important to restore it for declining fish species, but also for the many other species connected to all of these sensitive habitat types.”

For an additional $2.50 per month, you can directly support projects like this by adding Habitat Support to your renewable option.