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Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Natural area

Portland Parks & Recreation's Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a 163-acre complex of meadows, woodlands, and wetlands in Portland on the east bank of the Willamette River, just north of the Sellwood Bridge.

On this Page

Portland Migratory Birds

Nature Hawks, quail, pintails, mallards, coots, woodpeckers, kestrels, and widgeons are just the start of the list of birds that one might encounter in Oaks Bottom. Scores of great blue heron are found in the area because of its proximity to one of the rookeries on Ross Island. Visit Portland Migratory Birds for more info.

Oaks Bottom Habitat Enhancement Project Overview

Environmental Services, Portland Parks & Recreation, and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers worked together in 2018 on a large-scale habitat enhancement project to benefit wildlife and people. The project restored 75 acres of wetland habitat. Visit the Bureau of Environmental Services Oaks Bottom Habitat Enhancement Project page to read more.

Frogs & Salamanders of Portland (pdf)

Did you know that Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge has an education pond called “Tadpole Pond?” Salamanders start laying eggs in Tadpole Pond in January, and frogs start laying soon after. January through March are good times to see eggs. April through June are good times to see frog tadpoles and salamander larvae. How many creatures will YOU see in Tadpole Pond?

Field Trips

Organize a day of outdoor learning for your classroom, community group, or club through Portland Park's City Nature program!

Children learn about nature first-hand when they are surrounded by it! Ecology makes more sense when a person can physically touch their surroundings. Our field trip leaders have a background in science and education. Teaching methods are creative and engaging and include games, inquiry, and observation. 

Learn more about Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge Field Trips and other opportunities at the Environmental Education pages below:

Field Trips and Group Programs

How to Schedule an Environmental Education Program

Ladybug Walks for Private Groups

Common sites for Ladybug Walks

Common sites for field trips

Friends of Oaks Bottom

The Friends of Oaks Bottom is a volunteer organization working in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation for the promotion, preservation, and management of Oaks Bottom. The Friends participate in habitat restoration, trail maintenance, guided hikes, information programs, and the publication of a newsletter. For more info, call 503-729-0318.

Size in acres

161.58

Year acquired

1959

History

Oaks Bottom is a floodplain wetland located along the east bank of the Willamette River. Part of the park is built on a sanitation landfill consisting of 400,000 cubic feet of construction waste material layered with soil. The City of Portland acquired the original 115 acres in 1959. Parks acquired the landfill property from the Donald M. Drake Company at the beginning of 1969 to block its development as an industrial park. The area was believed, at the time, to be one of the few remaining marshland areas in Portland, and local residents were strongly opposed to its development as industrial property.

Portland Parks & Recreation's Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a 163-acre complex of meadows, woodlands and wetlands in Portland on the east bank of the Willamette River, just north of the Sellwood Bridge. The refuge is the largest remaining natural area within the lower Willamette River floodplain and provides important habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened salmon and more than 175 bird species.

Oaks Bottom supports many wildlife species that are considered “special status” - in decline on a regional or statewide scale. These include 44 bird species, three bat species, and one type of amphibian.

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) manages the site as an important habitat area and an inviting place to view wildlife in the heart of the city. The Springwater Corridor Trail (part of the region’s trail network) bisects the western edge of the refuge. A hiking trail and one hike/bike trail connect the refuge with two visitor parking lots and the Sellwood neighborhood to the east.

PP&R created Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (name changed from Oaks Pioneer Park), the city’s first wildlife refuge, in 1988 after a long history of environmental degradation at the site. The City thanks the Sellwood neighbors, schools and colleges, and many other volunteer and partner groups who help restore habitats at the refuge.

Park Location or Entrance

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge main entrance
SE 7th Avenue and Sellwood Blvd
Portland, OR 97202

Open hours

Park hours: 5:00am-midnight.

North parking lot closed 10:00pm-5:00am.

Park amenities/activities

Paths (Paved)
Riverfront Views
Trails (Biking)
Trails (Hiking)
Visitor Attraction

City section

SE