In the not-so-distant future, a Tualatin-area natural area will link a continuous 50-mile regional trail system connecting the Willamette River in Wilsonville to the same river in North Portland.
With that in mind, Metro, area city administrators and others met with U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici at the Heritage Pine Natural Area on Wednesday, Aug 14, to call attention to a need for federal funding to help support continuing plans for an expansive regional trails systems.
Heritage Pine, which butts up to Tualatin city limits, is the linchpin in a regional trail system where it will someday serve as a hub.
"This really is the confluence location," said Ross Hoover, Tualatin parks and recreation director. "The trail system is being pieced together."
Also present during the tour were Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen, Tualatin Mayor Frank Bubenik, Tualatin City Manager Sherilyn Lombos, Sherwood City Manager Joe Gall and Sherwood Community Development Director Julia Hajduk.
The 200-acre Tualatin Heritage Pine Nature Area is located along the north end of Cipole Road, north of Highway 99W. (Added to the original 148-acre parcel was 51 acres Metro acquired in 2016.)
To the west of the property is Tualatin's Pony Ridge neighborhood.
The nature area acreage was acquired through Metro bond measures and is next to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, just outside of Sherwood.
The Heritage Pine Nature Area is important because there is a long-term goal to hook it up with the Westside Trail (also known as Powerlines Trail) that will eventually include a 25-mile-long trail that extends from the Tualatin River near King City to the Willamette River in Portland's Northwest Industrial neighborhood, according Metro's website.
Currently, 12 miles of the trail are being built within Beaverton and there are plans to extend the trail southward through Tigard, Bull Mountain and King City.
Also key to the trail system is the Ice Age Tonquin Trail, which is being developed in collaboration with the cities of Wilsonville, Sherwood and Tualatin. The trail (which includes Sherwood's Cedar Creek Trail and Tualatin's Hedges Creek Trail) will eventually connect all three cities through the Heritage Pine Natural Area, Coffee Lake Creek Wetlands Natural Area and the Tualatin Transit Center, Metro officials point out.
Another important trail will be the Tualatin River Greenway, which passes through Tigard's Cook Park, Tualatin Community Park and Tualatin's Browns Ferry.
"Six miles are currently built – including the ever-popular Ki-a-Kuts Bridge – with 19 additional miles planned," according to a Metro news release. "The trail will one day connect to King City and the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in the west, and to Lake Oswego and West Linn in the east."
Tualatin's Ki-a-Kuts Bridge has proved to be a big factor in the regional trail system as well.
"Today that bridge gets more use than any other trail to Portland," said Robert Spurlock, a Metro senior regional planner for parks and nature.
Heritage Pine National Area is a stone's throw away – one piece of property – to connecting to the Tualatin River Greenway Trail, Spurlock pointed out.
"As the region grows … there's more and more need for people to go and enjoy nature," said Dirksen, who noted the importance of being on trails where you don't encounter streets. Dirksen said the current trail system from Tigard to Portland can be ridden faster on a bike than by car.
Bonamici told those gathered that she wants to do what she can to be supportive of the trails projects and views infrastructure as a top priority.
"(Infrastructure is) not just roads and bridges, it's transit and trails as well," she said.
Bonamici pointed out the other benefit of improving and connecting trails is the economic impact they have on tourism in the area.
Mayor Bubenik praised the efforts to connect all trails and the importance of the Tualatin River in that effort.
"Residents of Tualatin want to see the river again," said Bubenik. "They want access to the river."
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