Metro purchases Stafford land

25 acres are protected on both sides of Pecan Creek
Stafford Basin natural area acquisition by Metro.

A 25-acre purchase in the Stafford Basin is the first to make good on a Metro promise to protect land within the Stafford area through a voter-approved bond measure.

Metro, which oversees land use planning in the tri-county area, announced the $1.8 million purchase last week. Officials at the agency say the acquisition builds on a regional vision to protect the wildlife corridor along Pecan Creek between Luscher Farm and the Tualatin River.

The newly acquired property includes about 2,000 feet of frontage along both sides of Pecan Creek and a portion of a small tributary creek.

Located south of Childs Road, just outside of Lake Oswego, the land was acquired with funds from Metro's voter-approved natural areas bond measure, sanctioned by voters in November 2006. The bond measure generated $227.4 million for Metro to buy open space, offer grants for natural projects in urban neighborhoods and fund capital projects on land already set aside for parks.

Approximately $170 million of the money from the bond measure was earmarked for land purchases like the recent Stafford acquisition. Metro's aim was to acquire 3,500 to 4,500 acres of land for protection with the money.

Wilson Creek, Tryon Creek, the Tualatin River and the Willamette Greenway - including the Willamette Narrows - were all considered target areas at the time of the bond measure's passage.

The areas were developed as targets by a committee of businesspeople, citizens and environmentalists using input from 40 public and private scientists in 2005.

Pecan Creek feeds into the Tualatin River. Metro's acquisition of the creekside land is aimed at protecting water quality in the Tualatin Basin and also promises future public access opportunities for a developing trail system in the Stafford area.

The Three Rivers Land Conservancy and the city of Lake Oswego have been working toward acquiring land to preserve the nature of the Stafford Basin for about 10 years.

To date, about 200 acres have been preserved as natural areas including Luscher Farm and Sunny Slope. With the amount of protected lands growing, the local community developed a Stafford Basin Path and Trail Plan in 2001.

The plan identifies approximately 15 miles of new trails connecting protected wildlife areas and parks in Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn.

The property is located in the Stafford Basin, a triangular-shaped area located south of Lake Oswego, west of West Linn and east of Tualatin.

Douglas fir, big-leaf maple, and cedar trees are found throughout the property along with a scattering of native understory plants. Although many of the trees visible along the Stafford Road property boundary are covered with English ivy, the area along Pecan Creek is still in good condition and provides the creek with significant water quality benefits.

Metro's natural area restoration experts will remove the ivy and other non-native species that have gotten a foothold and bring the struggling native plants back to health.

The Stafford Basin is one of 27 target areas identified for protection in Metro's 2006 Natural Areas bond measure.