Wild about the April Hill Park Wetland

Protect salamanders, birds & rare plants while creating safe access to the wetland, pedestrian trail connections, and outdoor learning opportunities for youth!

The April Hill Park Wetland Story

Tucked away in a corner of SW Portland just west of Multnomah Village, there is a special place that is home to salamanders, newts, frogs, sixty-nine species of birds, and several species of wetland plants that are uncommon in urban areas.  Many park visitors don't know this wetland exists.  The natural area doesn't have any official trails or signage. Steep, muddy slopes with blackberry thickets make the approach challenging for all but the most adventurous souls.

For several years, Maplewood neighbors, local students, park managers and other visitors have wanted clearer, safer access to the wetland.  However, park budgets have been cut by about 20% over the last several years.  Recently we received a significant award of funding -- and we have the opportunity to make it happen!

The Need

Right now, people entering the wetland trudge through dense vegetation and standing water.  Because there aren't any defined trails, narrow and muddy paths criss-cross through the wetland.  Some park visitors also use the area for illegal dog off-leash activity.  This has increased the spread of invasive plants, which frequently outcompete wetland natives.  It has also compacted the soil and increased sediment and bacteria in the water.  Finally, local elementary, preschool and after school program leaders have stated that they would like to be able to bring youth to the wetland, but have concerns about safe access.  

Beyond the wetland, people enjoy seeing the creek.  However, the only way across is a fallen log.  The lack of a trail has resulted in foot traffic suppressing vegetation along the creek bank and increasing bank erosion, which makes the water in Woods Creek even worse.

The Plan

If the campaign is funded, we will be able to apply for permits in winter 2013-14 and expect to construct the project in summer 2014.  The concept, subject to final design and review, is for:

  • 2,000 feet of sustainable soft surface trail 
  • About 900 feet of low-profile boardwalk with handrail
  • Two bridges across Woods Creek that will help protect the banks from erosion
  • A wetland observation platform with benches, large enough to accommodate a classroom of students
  • Signs that tell the story of the wetland, its uniqueness in the urban setting, and who lives there

Rendering by Joanne Hogarth

The Results

Since 2005, Friends of April Hill Park have served as volunteer stewards of the wetland.  We've held work parties, taught local youth about this area, and helped Portland Parks & Recreation improve management of the natural area.  When the final fundraising is complete, we'll be ready to implement this project that was planned in 2010.  Construction of the boardwalk, bridges and observation platform will:

  • Provide a place for elementary school youth to get outside, and learn science from nature.
  • New soft surface trails will be more sustainable, minimize erosion and other impacts to water quality, and create a new access point from a dead-end street into the park and natural area.
  • The boardwalk will alleviate the negative impacts of social trails that currently criss-cross the wetland and degrade habitat.
  • Bridges will allow vegetation along the creek to regrow and increase the stability of the bank.
  • Signage will help underscore to park visitors why off-trail and dog off-leash activity introduces bacteria and invasive plants, which are harmful to the wetland.

Other Ways You Can Help

Even if you are not able to contribute, you can help in other ways:

  • Use the Indiegogo share tools below to spread the word on Facebook, Twitter or email.  Tell your friends!
  • Take the young people you know outside to spend time in nature!  As urban development increases pressure on these areas, we need to know, value and protect them more than ever before.
  • Email aprilhillpark@gmail.com to receive quarterly updates about work parties and other events.

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