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Sandy park keeps growing

Donation, grant purchase would expand nature area to nearly 200 acres
by: contributed photo by city of Sandy Sandy River park and surrounding lands.

The public ownership of greenspace in the pristine area of Sandy River Park continues to grow, thanks to the work of city leaders and a recent land donation.

Nearly three acres immediately adjacent to the park boundaries were donated to the city by Dr. Reg Bruss and his wife, Linda.

That addition to the existing 124-acre park as well as the five-acre Jonsrud Viewpoint plus another 68-acre site at the edge of the park, which is now in its final stages of consideration for a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), would expand the park to nearly 200 acres.

The largest area of expansion is 68 acres, owned by the family of Ray Schoppert, and his surviving spouse, Irene.

The expansion also would make it possible to build a switchback trail connecting the Jonsrud Viewpoint to the Sandy River, said City Manager Scott Lazenby, who mentioned there is another large parcel to the east of the park that is owned by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

'(When all of the land has been transferred) this means that most of the natural area in the Sandy River Valley will be in public ownership,' Lazenby said, 'until you get to the Revenue Bridge area.'

The acreage donated to the city last week by the Bruss family initially was reported to be a purchase, at a cost of $7,000, but the Brusses decided to simply donate the land. The city, then, only had a bill for $3,600 to get a timber cruise and appraisal.

'This land has the beginning of a really nice logging road on it,' Lazenby said, 'that will wind around on the Schoppert's property and make a really good hiking trail.'

The Schoppert's land that Lazenby mentioned includes several tax lots, totaling 68 acres. The purchase price of $470,000 - which is below the current appraisal - is being paid by grants from several conservation agencies and a grant, still under consideration from the Watershed Enhancement Board. The city's cost for the land would be $50,000.

Lazenby said the transfers and purchases have been purposeful choices by the city and its elected leaders.

'We've been careful to keep our development on top of the bluff,' he said. 'That's part of our Comprehensive Plan, which assumes the river valley would stay rural and in its natural state. Even with park use, the plans allow only very low impact - hiking trails and no motorized access. This, then, becomes our small version of (Portland's) Forest Park.'

To make Sandy more of a destination, city leaders have been working at several levels to create reasons for people to come to this area, instead of just passing through.

'We've been working with other agencies, on the Sandy River Water Trail for people to float the Sandy River, and having a large park (alongside the river) will be good,' Lazenby said. 'Floaters will be able to pull their raft (or kayak) on shore, but we won't have a boat ramp.'

As the Sandy River Park develops, he said, it will emphasize activities that leave behind only footprints.

'There's a lot of potential for walking trails in the whole area,' he said. 'Recently, we took a group of staff members from the granting agency (OWEB) and members of their review committee down into the Schoppert property, and we all felt the property is just gorgeous. It has an amazing number of creeks, waterfalls, beaver ponds and mature trees.'

And from less-treed areas: one of the best views of the entire valley, the river and Mount Hood.

Final word on the last grant to pay for the additional 68 acres, Lazenby said, isn't expected until September.

'We're very optimistic,' he said.