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Landscape Architecture Magazine has a story in this month's issue about the trail and its relationship to the much larger Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.


TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A blue ribbon of glass along a segment of the Tualatin River Greenway Trail that starts at Southwest Barngrover Way in Tualatin represents the Ice Age floods, which inundated the region more than 12 millennia ago.If you happen to pick up this month's issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine — it's the magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects, a national trade group — you'll find a story on a trail in Tualatin, and the natural cataclysm it illustrates.

A 3/4-mile segment of the Tualatin River Greenway Trail opened early this year, filling in most of a missing link in the regional trail through the heart of Tualatin. The new trail includes interpretive elements, including glass and footprints embedded in the cement pathway, which represent prehistoric floodwaters and fauna that once traversed the region, as well as signs with information about the last Ice Age.

More than 10,000 years ago, a series of massive floods caused by the failure of an ice dam in what is now Montana covered most of the Willamette Valley under hundreds of feet of muddy water. Tualatin has embraced this piece of its heritage, which helped shape the natural landscape, brought rich glacial silt to the region, and deposited rocks and boulders (along with, bizarrely, a meteorite) from as far away as the Rocky Mountains in the area.

Some of those so-called "erratic" rocks have been placed along the trail segment, which runs from Southwest Barngrover Way up to the former RV Park of Portland property, crossing beneath Interstate 5 along the way. Casts of fossils can also be seen at scenic overlooks of the Tualatin River off the trail.

"Call it an outdoor natural history museum, or, more accurately, call it a miniature geologic trail, the extremely little brother of the 3,400-mile Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, which will stretch from Montana to the Pacific, passing through Idaho, Washington, and Oregon as it traces the path of the floodwaters that geologists believe carved much of the landscape of the northwestern United States," the Landscape Architecture Magazine article reads in part.

That trail was established by Congress in 2009, although its development has been largely left to communities along its route. The Tualatin River Greenway Trail was designated in April as a "loop trail" in association with the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

"The efforts Tualatin has made qualified it to be a location along the trail," Dan Foster, the national trail's superintendent, was quoted as saying in the Landscape Architecture Magazine article.

The trail segment was designed by Cardno. The engineering firm and the city of Tualatin have both received awards for the project, including a national sustainability award from the American Planning Association and a design award from the Oregon Recreation & Park Association.

"The staff and the (Tualatin City) Council are happy to see that the City of Tualatin has received positive recognition for the trail from so many other organizations," Hennon told The Times in an email, "but our real satisfaction and sense of accomplishment comes from seeing people use the trail to connect with nature, improve their health and wellness by being active, enjoy recreation and social interaction with others, (and) learn a bit of local natural history that helps create a sense of place and community pride, and knowing that the city has provided a safe alternative for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross Interstate 5 as they commute between their homes, public facilities like the library, shopping, and jobs."

Subscriptions to Landscape Architecture Magazine are available on the American Society of Landscape Architects' website.


By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor
503-906-7901
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