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City approves $11.25 million deal for 146 acres of open land

Property adjacent to River View Cemetery to be used as a wildlife corridor
by: Claire Oliver Connecting a corridor of forestland that runs from Forest Park to Tryon Creek State Park, Portland city officials recently announced the purchase of 146 acres of undeveloped property that until now have been part of River View Cemetery.

SOUTHWEST - Portland's City Council approved an $11.25 million deal May 4 to purchase a 146-acre section of forestland in Southwest Portland to be kept as green space and part of the city's wildlife corridor.

The unanimous vote came even though Commissioner Randy Leonard questioned where the city was getting the money for its share.

Bureau of Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott promised after the vote to provide Leonard with details about his agency's contribution.

The property is an undeveloped section of the River View Cemetery between Southwest Palatine Hill Road, Southwest Macadam Avenue and the Willamette River. It is about half of a 300-acre section of forestland south of the cemetery near Lewis and Clark College.

City officials announced the purchase May 2 at City Hall with representatives from Metro and The Trust for Public Land, which holds the option to buy the property.

'This purchase will protect the forest from development, which would have negative impacts on watershed health,' City Commissioner Dan Saltzman said. 'It will also mark the start of an extensive project to remove invasive vegetation and restore native plants.'

The site will be managed as a natural area by Portland Parks and Recreation, which will work with the community to develop a trail and habitat management plan.

Immediate plans for the site include habitat stabilization with the removal of such invasive species as English ivy, clematis and blackberry and the addition of native plants.

'As a key link in the westside wildlife corridor, this property is an extraordinary addition to the region's preserved and connected natural areas,' City Commissioner Nick Fish said. 'Thanks to the River View Cemetery board for their foresight and to the partners who made this acquisition possible. Portland Parks and Recreation is honored to assume the stewardship of this natural treasure for future generations.'

A story by Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org reported that the property has been the home of a network of unofficial bike trails for years. As they exist today, the trails are only suitable for skilled riders, but bike enthusiasts are already hoping PP and R keeps off-road biking access on the table as part of the trails plan it develops for River View Forest in coming years.

Funds come from grey to green

Under terms of the deal adopted by the council, The Trust for Public Land will exercise its option to buy the land and then sell it to the city for $11.25 million, about $2.75 million under the property's fair market value.

Terms of the deal were set in an April 1 sale agreement. The land is in the city's westside wildlife corridor. It will be preserved as open space to protect wildlife and fish habitat.

Funding for the property purchase includes $6 million from the city of Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services' Grey to Green Initiative, $2.5 million from Portland Parks and Recreation as its local share of Metro's natural areas bond measure, $2 million from Metro for a conservation easement on the property and a $750,000 loan from The Trust for Public Land that could be repaid from a grant.

City officials said there were seven streams flowing through the property to the Willamette River. It also is just north of Tryon Creek State Park on Southwest Terwilliger Road.