by Ezra Cohen, Volunteer, Trailkeepers of Oregon
With a fluttering rush of wings, the western screech owl shot from its roost in the cleft of a limb and, dodging between branches in the ashen light, landed inside a tangled thicket. […]
Sometimes starting right at the edge of your block, trails connect us to the “nature-hoods” of our cities and towns. Our local, county and regional parks are full of accessible beauty and wonder, all of which have significant gaps in protecting and enhancing trails. TKO has been connecting enthusiastic community members with stewardship opportunities very close to home. From Portland to Bend to Tillamook, we continue to make an impact in our urban parks – one trail at a time.
Oxbow Regional Park is a gem within the Metro Parks & Nature system in Portland. Meanwhile, Chehalem Ridge Nature Park is bound to be another crown jewel. As the population of the Portland region expands, more close to home outdoor recreation is critical. We’ve put tools-to-trail at Oxbow over the last few years, and Chehalem Ridge will be another place for us to tend to!
Three years ago we approached Metro Parks & Nature program staff to tackle projects at Oxbow, mainly to demonstrate that we can help bridge gaps in trail maintenance and propel enhancement projects forward when capacity, expertise and resources are spread thin. From running youth crews to hosting family-friendly days, we’ve done a lot for this park.
Chehalem Ridge Nature Park is in its final planning stages – roads, utilities, facilities and trails are all on their way. TKO is taking a part in the early stages of the work. We are calling it Christensen Creek Trail and it is a nature trail being designed by TKO staff and volunteer leaders to be an all-ages, all-abilities experience. Being able to design and build a new trail is a special thing, all the greater when it is within a newly forming park. Metro Parks & Nature has many new parks across the region and we are at the table discussing where to go next!
At Oxbow, we’ve resolved a backlog of maintenance along miles of trails for tread and corridor width, built small drainage crossings through the system to solve water pooling and/or running down trails. TKO helped break ground on the path and play stations for a new nature play area that was constructed in 2019 and improved viewing stations for the annual Salmon Festival while rerouting lost sections of trail that were consumed by the ever-changing path of the Sandy River. Our reputation with Metro staff has allowed us to expand to other parks across the region. While we’ve had great success, there is still more to be done – Oxbow will continue to be a place we put tools-to-trail.