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Day-use area and trails envisioned by fall 2017, but most of 233 forested acres will remain in natural state.



TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO  - A hiker enjoys a trail in Newell Creek Canyon, a natural area in the Oregon City area preserved by Metro thanks to a bond measure. The Metro Council has approved a master plan for access to Newell Creek Canyon in Oregon City, which could emerge as one of the crown jewels among Metro’s regional parks and natural areas.

The council did so Thursday (March 31) at a meeting in Oregon City, which is to the west of the canyon.

“It outlines what we can make happen — how we can improve upon nature through restoration efforts, but also promote public access to this very delicate place,” Councilor Kathryn Harrington said.

Sha Spady, a resident who sat on the Newell Creek Canyon advisory committee, said she had her doubts over the years whether the plan would ever come to fruition. But she said she became a believer after voters approved a $227 million regional bond in 2006 and Metro spent some of it on the 233 acres that will be in the natural area.

“Instead of being 52 home sites, it became the core sector of what is now the park that you are being asked to approve,” she said. “It has been an amazing journey.”

Details have been in the works for two years, but the plan goes back 20 years.

The plan calls for a day-use area with parking, kiosks, picnic shelters and an overlook.

It also envisions five miles of trails — two miles for hikers, two miles for off-road cycling, and one mile of shared use.

The money will be drawn from the five-year local option levy that voters approved back in 2013, and which Metro may ask voters Nov. 8 to extend for another five years.

While work is expected to be completed by fall 2017, most of the forested canyon will be protected for water quality, fish and wildlife habitat. Trash accumulated from unauthorized camping and dumping will be removed.

“Nobody gets everything they want,” said Blane Meier, owner of First City Cycles, who represented Oregon City Trail Alliance on the advisory committee. “But the process has been fair.”

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