Metro acquires 145-acre natural area along Tualatin River to protect clean water, support wildlife.

COURTESY OF METRO - The new Beef Bend Natural Area protects more than two miles along the Tualatin River. A newly acquired 145-acre natural area along the Tualatin River west of King City will protect clean water and support a variety of native wildlife and plants.

The new Beef Bend Natural Area protects more than two miles of the riverbank and connects several large pieces of publicly protected habitat. The natural area borders the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge to the south and across the river to the east. To the east of the refuge property is Metro's 203-acre Heritage Pine Natural Area.

MAP COURTESY OF METRO - New acquisition expands a wildlife corridor next to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. The publicly owned properties are located in a pocket between areas of future development for King City and Sherwood near Tigard and Tualatin. The large area of habitat provides benefits for wildlife and clean water and protects nature in a fast-developing part of the region.

"It's going to be really hemmed in by urban development long term," said Ryan Ruggiero, the Metro real estate negotiator who worked on the acquisition.

     -     The new natural area features increasingly uncommon oak woodlands and riparian forests, including several Willamette Valley ponderosa pines that stand at more than 80 feet tall. Beavers, black-tailed deer, pileated woodpeckers, western gray squirrels and other native wildlife likely use the site.

"It's important core habitat for all the wildlife that use that area," said Jeff Merrill, a natural resources scientist who is leading restoration work at the site.

Upcoming restoration work could include removing a bridge spanning a small seasonal stream on the property that flows into the Tualatin River and manmade objects from the stream, Merrill said. Invasive plants, such as Himalayan blackberry and ivy, will be removed from the riparian forest and native trees and shrubs will be planted in their place. Fast-growing Douglas firs could also be selectively removed to provide more sunlight for native Oregon white oaks.

About 70 acres will continue to be leased for farming.

Crews have already removed an old shed where machines repairs occurred. About 25 cubic yards of soil contaminated with lead and other chemicals were also removed and disposed. Other old structures and a septic system are also planned for removal in the future.

Beef Bend Natural Area cost $1.7 million to acquire. Money came from the natural areas bond measure that voters approved in 2006.

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