Committee charts future of forest for community
A group is in the process of developing a management plan for the new Eagle Creek Community Forest.
In April, the Trust for Public Land purchased a 319-acre forest parcel owned by Weyerhaeuser. The area is neighbored by Eagle Fern Park and wooded lands owned by Portland General Electric and the Bureau of Land Management. Collectively, this forested area spans 1,000 acres.
Through the sale process, the Trust for Public Land purchased the Weyerhaeuser land and immediately sold it to the Clackamas Soil and Water District at cost. The property was appraised at $1.3 million, and a grant from the U.S. Forest Service reduced the district's acquisition cost to $750,000.
"The Clackamas SWCD is delighted to have this opportunity to improve fish and wildlife habitat and to provide additional access to public lands," Tom Salzer of the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District wrote in a press release. "Over time, we will be able to illustrate how different forest management practices can affect private forest lands. None of this would be possible without the tremendous support we received from The Trust for Public Land."
The advisory committee for the community forest is collaborating with owners of the nearby lands to develop a cohesive and community-driven management plan for the area. The group consists of local community members and representatives from Clackamas County Parks and Forest, Clackamas River Basin Council, Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District, Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Metro regional government, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State University Extension Service, Portland General Electric, The Trust for Public Land and and the U.S. Forest Service.
"We want to create a long term plan for the forest land," said David Bugni, one of the spearheaders of the project. "It was previously industrial forest, and the Soil and Water District's plan is to create long-term, old growth forest."
Though the plan is focused on the 319 acres purchased by the Clackamas Soil and Water District, neighboring landowners are eager to collaborate on the document and work concurrently on their properties.
"It's a chance to weigh in on what makes sense for our priorities, and look for opportunities on the land," said John Esler of Portland General Electric. "We're trying to ensure an ecological lift for these properties."
The plan will focus on the area's long term maintenance needs, fish and wildlife necessities, topography and the implementation of recreational trails.
Bugni noted that the group looks to include hiking trails in the plan and also wants to make sure there are trails for other activities like equestrian activities and mountain biking if possible. However, these may require a seperate trail network.
The grant requires plans must be completed 120 days after the sale of the property.