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Tigard, Tualatin sign off on national designation for Tualatin River

West Linn already on board with effort

This story has been updated from its original version.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - John Goodhouse, center, won a just-for-bragging-rights paddle race organized by Tualatin Riverkeepers on the Tualatin River on Saturday; on Tuesday, he voted along with the rest of the Tigard City Council in support of the Riverkeepers' application to have the river named as a National Water Trail.The Tualatin River is two steps closer to being named a National Water Trail, as the city councils of Tigard and Tualatin voted unanimously this week to approve the designation for the river.

The river, a subsidiary of the Willamette River, is already considered a water trail for regional purposes. The Washington County Visitors Association even publishes a trail guide for the river. The waterway is heavily used for boating, fishing and other forms of recreation, especially in the summertime.

The National Park Service administers the National Water Trails System, which effectively serves to provide major water trails with greater promotion and recognition, as well as increased federal funding opportunities for projects associated with them.

“That (designation) just gives a little more prominence,” explained Steve Martin, Tigard's parks manager.

Tigard City Councilor Marc Woodard noted opportunities for funding, technical assistance and training for projects along the river through the National Water Trails System.

“There's all kinds of benefits that come out of this,” said Woodard. “I think it's fantastic.”

Except for a finger that takes in most of Bridgeport Village and some adjacent areas, Tualatin is bounded to the north by the Tualatin River. The river also lends its name to the Tualatin River Greenway Trail, a pedestrian and bicycle path that runs through Tigard, Durham and Tualatin.

The cities' assent to the designation is important in order for the river to become a National Water Trail, Martin said.

“Part of the thing with the National Water Trail is the public agencies that have access, all of them should agree that it would make a good water trail,” Martin said.

The West Linn City Council approved the designation on July 11.

“I think that this helps in a lot of different ways, but hopefully at some point, the whole area receives some significant funding from the National Parks Service,” said Ken Worcester, West Linn's parks and recreation director, at the meeting.

The Willamette River was also recently designated as a National Water Trail, according to Worcester.

Tualatin Riverkeepers, a nonprofit group that advocates for the Tualatin River and associated habitats, is submitting the application for National Water Trail designation to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The city councils of Tigard, Tualatin and West Linn have approved resolutions in support of that application, as has the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

The Riverkeepers are seeking a similar resolution from the Hillsboro City Council, along with the support of the regional government Metro. Rivergrove was also approached but declined to participate.

Brian Wegener, the Riverkeepers' advocacy manager, said his group feels that the Tualatin River should receive the National Water Trail designation because public access to the river has recently expanded with new boat ramps. Another launch is set to open next spring in the Farmington area.

“It's become clear that the Tualatin River is a very special recreational resource that helps the tourism industry, as well as the local residents and their quality of life here,” Wegener told the Tigard City Council at its Tuesday meeting.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that the city of Rivergrove is not participating in the project.