Forest Park is one of the largest forested city parks in the United States. Today, Forest Park is at risk.
This unique initiative will invest holistically in Forest Park’s ecology, infrastructure, and access—making significant improvements and providing visitors with the kind of vibrant natural area they haven’t experienced for more than a century.
Together, we will renew this remarkable asset and create a legacy for generations to come.
Over half of Forest Park is currently in good or excellent ecological condition, about 2,880 out of 5,200 total acres. In the other half, invasive plants are a primary threat. While PP&R has removed invasive species in Forest Park for many years, we have not previously had the resources or mandate to do large-scale restoration.
Restore Forest Park is a long-term plan to protect and restore the park’s ecological health by removing invasive species and replanting native plants. Our success will be demonstrated by a healthier Forest Park that continues to provide for a diversity of plants and wildlife.
STATUS: 760 acres have been restored or are under active treatment.
Restoration efforts currently focus on the following project areas:
- Balch 1, 2 and 3 (590 total acres)
These project areas lie within the Balch Creek sub watershed in the southern portion of the park. This densely forested habitat offers rich recreational and interpretive opportunities for visitors. It is accessible by public transit, and also contains the only ADA accessible segment of trail (1 quarter mile long) in Forest Park. Despite having the highest habitat scores in the City, this area is threatened by the long-term encroachment of invasive species like ivy, holly and laurel. Restoration efforts focus on weed removal and revegetation of native plants to re-establish ecological diversity and improve the quality of wildlife habitat.
- North Forest Park (170 acres)
This project area falls within the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) transmission line corridor through northern Forest Park. With significant financial and technical support from Metro, and in partnership with BPA and Forest Park Conservancy, treatments will restore forested habitat and create an oasis for pollinators like birds, bees and butterflies within the corridor.
Due to its scale and complexity, restoring Forest Park requires a multi-pronged approach. First, PP&R’s Protect the Best program focuses efforts on the healthiest portions of Forest Park to prevent the spread of invasive species into these areas. We manually remove invasive species wherever feasible, especially within the most sensitive areas along trails, streams, and from trees. We also make judicious use of mechanical and chemical treatments through a well-established methodology for restoration and in accordance with a city-wide Integrated Pest Management program. Finally, our local partners work to prevent the spread of invasive species into Forest Park from adjacent private properties.
This work would not be possible without funding from Metro and the Forest Park Conservancy. We are also grateful for valuable contributions from West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, Bonneville Power Administration, Verde Landscape, PP&R’s No Ivy League, PP&R’s Youth Conservation Crew, community volunteers, R. Franco Restoration, and Ash Creek Forest Management.
- Pursue diverse funding streams to continue to meet restoration targets in Forest Park.
- Partner with Portland Fire & Rescue to address wildfire risk within the community of Linnton. Work would include the removal of hazardous fuels in 500 acres of Forest Park, as well as outreach and education programming for adjacent residents to facilitate defensible space along the park’s perimeter.
Forest Park was established in 1948 and today much of its aging infrastructure requires replacement or repair. Failing bridges, collapsed culverts, and restricted emergency access are among the many challenges facing the park. By investing in durable and modern improvements, PP&R will enhance visitor safety and create a more resilient park for future generations.
Rebuild Forest Park is a long-term plan to address aging infrastructure that has endangered beloved sections of the park for years. Our success will be demonstrated by functioning trails, bridges and culverts that are safe for everyone.
Infrastructure improvements and replacements have occurred as funding is available.
- Three major bridges on the Wildwood Trail, Lower Macleay Trail and Maple Trail were replaced through the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond, allowing PP&R to re-open a previously closed section of Maple Trail. (Completed 2017)
- Three large culverts designed for 100-year storm events and amphibian passage replaced failing and collapsed culverts on Leif Erikson Drive. This work restored emergency access along Leif Erikson Drive and was made possible through a cost-share agreement with the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES). (Completed 2018)
- Three bridges on the northern end of the Wildwood Trail received significant repairs and improvements, preventing possible collapse and risk to the public. (Completed 2020)
- Additional work is ongoing to remedy safety concerns along critical access corridors like Leif Erikson Drive.
- Replace or repair two large deteriorating bridges on Wildwood Trail.
- Continue culvert and roadway improvements on Leif Erikson Drive.
Forest Park is for everyone – but research shows that its visitors do not reflect the full diversity of Portland. Access barriers include limited public transportation, poorly signed trailheads, and the lack of a formal park entrance or visitor’s center. By making strategic investments in these areas we can create a more inclusive and welcoming park for all.
Reconnect Forest Park is a long-term plan to ensure Forest Park is a vibrant resource for all people. Our success will be demonstrated when we see diverse visitors utilizing the park, an improved system of easy-to-locate trailheads, and safe nature trails for everyone.
Public access improvements currently focus on the following areas:
Forest Park Entrance & Nature Center
Forest Park is the crown jewel in Portland’s park system, yet visitors have no visible entry point to discover information about the rich ecology, trails, and education programs offered. Envisioned in the 1995 Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan, the Forest Park Entrance and Nature Center will provide an inclusive, welcoming entrance for Forest Park, featuring:
- accessible entry facilities, parking, school bus drop off, and bike parking and repair stations.
- visitor amenities such as pedestrian and bike trails, boardwalks and a gathering space/amphitheater
- an iconic and inviting Nature Center, educational exhibits, community gathering and learning spaces, classrooms, public restrooms, and office functions.
- enhanced native landscape and wetland plantings
STATUS: Design for the project is complete.Phase I construction is scheduled to begin Spring 2021. Features included in this phase include:
- Parking area and trailhead access road
- Trailhead area and signage
- Firelane 1 improvements
- Stormwater treatment improvements
- Street frontage improvements.
For more information, please visit the Forest Park Entrance and Nature Center project webpage.
There are more than 40 trailheads that can be used to access Forest Park. These range from high-traffic entries that have parking areas and signage, to rustic street shoulders where a trail intersects a road. We know there is an critical need for improvements to these sites that make visitors feel welcome, informed and safe in the park. Improvements could include new or improved signage, resurfaced parking areas, and updated visitor amenities.
STATUS: Funding has not yet been identified for this body of work.
Wayfinding and Navigation
For new visitors, Forest Park can be daunting to locate. Its trailheads are often found down unmarked gravel roads or are poorly labeled next to roadside shoulders. We are working to identify simple improvements that will help the public travel safety to Forest Park.
- PP&R is working with Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to install traffic signs that identify trailhead locations along roads leading to the park. These improvements are also critical to improving emergency response to the park. (Scheduled for 2021)
- Web mapping services like Google Maps do not accurately reflect the locations or names of Forest Park trailheads. Without formal addresses, visitors are limited in their use of ridesharing apps and their own navigation to find the park. We are working to fully update Forest Park map sites, beginning with Google Maps. (Scheduled for 2021)
We’re working with partners to pilot new opportunities for engaging communities of color and non-English speakers in stewardship events, guided hikes, and workforce development.
STATUS: With support from Metro Nature in Neighborhoods, PP&R is collaborating with Verde Landscape and Forest Park Conservancy to offer multi-lingual discovery hikes and restoration job training between 2019 and 2021.
- Complete Phase I construction of the Forest Park Entrance and Nature Center site by 2021.
- Improve navigational access to the park by installing PBOT signage identifying the locations of all major trailheads.
- Update Google Maps to reflect the true names and locations of all major trailheads.
- Secure funding for trailhead improvements.
- Support partner-driven effort to offer multi-lingual discovery hikes and restoration job training by 2021.