The $350,000 purchase expands Kingfisher Natural Area to 126 acres, protects wildlife habitat

COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDIFE - The buy will benefit wildlife including Roosevelt elk, which use the area during the winter.

Metro regional government recently bought 86 acres near Oxbow Regional Park, expanding an important natural area to 126 acres.

The forested land southeast of Oxbow Regional Park in Gresham, abuts Metro's 40-acre Kingfisher Natural Area, tripling the size of the nature area to 126 acres.

The 86 acres cost $350,000 and was the first conservation purchase paid for by the Metro parks and nature bond voters approved in 2019.

The newly purchased land in the Sandy River Basin "will protect wildlife habitat, improve landscape connectivity and climate resilience, help provide access for restoration and land management and provide potential opportunities for native plant harvest by Indigenous communities," Metro said of the property.

The property includes more than 500 feet of native fish habitat along Trout Creek, which flows into the Sandy River. 

COURTESY MAP: METRO  - Metros newly-purchassed 86 acres expands the Kingfisher Natural Area to 126 acres.

With the purchase, Metro is able to protect clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, connect existing public lands and boost climate resilience, the agency said.

"An exciting part of this purchase for us is the access it provides for habitat restoration," Brian Vaughn, a natural resources scientist at Metro said in a statement.

"We used to have to travel by boat to get to this natural area. Being able to walk or drive in means we can do a lot more in terms of land management," he explained.

Vaughn said the first steps for the 86 acres will be assessing and removing invasive species, including blackberries, scotch broom and false brome. His team will also look at forest management in the area, with special consideration for the wildlife that call it home, he said.

"We know a lot of Roosevelt elk use this area during winter because of its lower elevation," Vaughn said. "Our goal is to preserve this wildlife connection and help to maintain a safe passage between their winter and summer habitats."  

Once restored, the natural area will improve water conditions for salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey downstream.

Metro said the purchase continues its focus on connecting existing public lands to improve water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and protecting scenic values and people's access to nature.

Because it is steep terrain, it is unlikely to be easily accessible to the public.

Metro said it protects and restores 2,224 acres of land in the Sandy River Basin, including the 1,000-acre Oxbow Regional Park.

Metro boasted that combined with land managed by Metro's partner organizations, nearly the entire Sandy River Gorge area is now protected.

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