Commissioner Ryan Directs Funding to Complete Columbia Slough Trail Project

News Article
Project Crosses Finish Line; Enhances Accessibility, Access, and Trail Use

(Portland, OR) –

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) recently completed a project to improve nearly a mile of Portland’s popular Columbia Slough Trail. The segment that crosses the Big Four Corners Natural Area was in bad condition. In addition to ruts in the trail, encroaching vegetation narrowed the trail width. The worn condition of the trail limited accessibility and public use, and was impacting the quality of the area’s habitat and wildlife.

The entire project, which cost just over $1 million, was funded by Parks System Development Charges (SDCs), not General Fund tax dollars. SDCs are one-time fees assessed on new development in Portland. These fees help ensure that, as the city grows in population, its quality of life keeps pace with its infrastructure needs.

Vibrant Communities Commissioner Dan Ryan directed the final allocation of development funds to bring the project across the finish line.

A section of the Columbia Slough Trail project before the project was completed. The path is a bumpy dirt path with overgrown vegetation.
A section of the Columbia Slough Trail before renovations.

“The project brings this popular trail into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards,” said Commissioner Ryan. “It also makes the trail more appealing for people walking, pushing strollers, and using mobility devices.”

Two more key benefits of the trail improvement project are that it gives first responders much easier access to the area, and that the new trail surface reduces maintenance needs considerably.

Along with PP&R’s trail improvement efforts, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Natural Systems team is doing restoration work in the area. Their goal is to enhance the habitat and water quality in the Morrow Pond area for the benefit of western painted turtles and other wildlife.

A section of the Columbia Slough Trail project after the project was completed. The trail is paved and smooth, and the surrounding vegetation has tended to so it doesn't impede the trail.
​The improved Columbia Slough Trail ready to welcome visitors on a new, smooth surface.

The City of Portland acquired the Columbia Slough Trail property in portions between 2002 and 2005. Since then, the Bureau of Environmental Services and PP&R have coordinated on trail and natural area management of the property to maximize Morrow Pond’s ability to absorb stormwater, enhance the quality of the area’s habitat and wildlife, and provide recreation opportunities and enjoyment of the area by the public. 

About the Columbia River Slough

The Columbia Slough is part of the historic floodplain of the Columbia River and represents a significant natural resource. The Columbia Slough trail was conceived as part of the original 40-Mile Loop trail system.