What's happening at Forest Park these days?

What's happening at Forest Park these days?
Wildwood Trail in Forest Park on a rainy summer day. (File photo, Wikimedia Commons)

Kendra Petersen-Morgan, a Natural Resource Ecologist with Portland Parks & Recreation, sent KATU this summary of the projects that are under way at Forest Park as of July, 2011:

Wildlife Survey

Through a collaboration with PP&R’s recently retired Executive Director Zari Santner and Commissioner Nick Fish’s office, funding has been obtained to implement a wildlife survey in Forest Park.  PP&R is in the process of hiring a wildlife survey coordinator and will be developing the scope of this project in the coming months.  

Mountain Biking Opportunities

PP&R is working with an outside consultant to create increase recreation opportunities for mountain bikers and hikers by utilizing existing firelanes adjacent to Skyline Blvd to create internal loops within the Park. 

Ecosystem Planning

To reach the Desired Future Condition (DFC) which was completed in January 2011 by PP&R, we are currently developing over 30 different   prescriptions or projects to achieve the ecological goals established through the DFC.  This PP&R led planning process innovatively involved participants from PP&R, Metro Regional Government, West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Audubon Society, Bureau of Environmental Services and the Forest Park Conservancy.  The final document will be completed and available online in August 2011.
 
Partnership with BES Revegetation Program

Between 2009-2011, over 2200 acres have been treated to address invasive vines such as English ivy and clematis and “weedy trees” such as English holly, laurel, non-native cherry and hawthorn.  This large scale restoration work has been accomplished through a partnership with the BES Watershed Revegetation Program.  All of these species are of concern due to the potential to disturb native plant communities and reduce habitat value for wildlife.   “Invasive species are considered the third greatest threat to biological diversity, followed by habitat loss and climate change (Defenders of Wildlife)”. 

Protect the Best

PP&R’s Protect the Best program continues spend over 70% of their time in Forest Park working to protect the most ecologically healthy areas from the impacts of invasive species.  This program’s approach that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure employs four full-time technical staff that daily don a pack weighing 30+ pounds that includes a chainsaw, herbicide for chemical treatments of invasive species and a GPS for tracking and monitoring.  This crew typically works on incredibly steep areas in remote portions of the park and is especially skilled in native plant identification and techniques to minimize disturbance to the treatment areas.  

Garlic Mustard

As part of the City’s Early Detection Rapid Response program, this spring PP&R targeted removal in Forest Park.  In 2010, PP&R was one of several agencies that received a grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Noxious Weed Control program to address garlic mustard removal throughout the City of Portland.  Staff and volunteers worked to treat and handpull garlic mustard, a non-native herbaceous weed that threatens native woodlands with its ability to displace native understory species. Areas of infestation are typically along roadsides and trails within and surrounding Forest Park. 

No Ivy League

The No Ivy League has been working since 1994 to remove English ivy in Forest Park while providing meaningful work and leadership opportunities for youth.  Since the inception of the program the group has removed ivy from over 25,000 trees within Forest Park.  This group has regular work parties on the first and third Saturday of the month.  This group meets at 8:45 at the Lower Macleay entrance to Forest Park, 2960 NW Upshur, Portland, OR 97210.  For more information about participating contact the No Ivy League at 503-823-3681.

Youth Conservation Crew

Youth Conservation Crew (YCC) is a summer youth based conservation program with PP&R that began in 2009. This program provides work opportunities and job skills training for teens from diverse backgrounds throughout the Portland area.  This 8-week program finds teens working in many of our natural areas removing invasive species, maintaining soft surface trails and protecting the urban forest.  In Forest Park and other natural areas, the YCC anticipates accomplishing trail maintenance and improvements, approximately 0.50 acres worth of ivy removal, 600 trees freed from tree ivy and over 2200 hours of labor throughout the City Nature portfolio. 

Entrance and Signage Improvements

Work has been occurring to improve popular trailheads such as Upper Springville, Germantown at Wildwood, Aspen and Lower Macleay with native plantings and invasive species removal.  Updated signage has been installed throughout the park and by Fall 2011 new wayfinding signs will be installed throughout the park. 

Forest Park Ranger

PP&R employs a full-time ranger  (Bob McCoy) to help provide education and outreach to park users through enforcement of park rules.  The Forest Park Ranger can be found 5 days a week in Forest Park addressing citizen concerns and engaging with the public to provide general park information, rule enforcement and wayfinding.  Volunteer Park Watch program will be launched in August 2011. 

Recreation User Survey

Two extensive surveys completed to evaluate how and where people are accessing and recreating in the park and capture information about desired expansion.