Greater Forest Park Conservation Initiative

Everything about Forest Park is impressive: its size (the nation’s largest forested urban park, spanning 5,200 acres); its unique environment (home to 112 bird species, 62 mammals, and hundreds of native plants) and the opportunities it provides us (80 miles of trails for outdoor recreation). Forest Park is a precious natural treasure that plays a major role in the quality of life we enjoy in the Portland-metro region, contributing to clean water and air, while also offering an abundance of outdoor recreation in the heart of a rapidly-growing urban area. 

A Forest under Threat

Yet as impressive and immense as Forest Park is, so too are the challenges it faces. Climate change, invasive species, urban growth, development and recreational pressures are taking a toll on the Park’s environmental health. Experts say the time is now to combat these threats before they grow increasingly worse.

“Studies show that the longer these types of problems are left unaddressed, the more difficult, costly and potentially more damaging it will be to fix them. Ultimately, if we don’t take action now, it may be too late,” said Renee Myers, executive director of the Forest Park Conservancy.

A Greater Vision for a Great Park

But there is hope, as outlined in a vision that is a big and bold as Forest Park itself.

Called the Greater Forest Park Conservation Initiative (GFPCI), Forest Park Conservancy has created a visionary roadmap to restore and protect not just Forest Park, but its entire surrounding ecosystem totaling more than 15,000 acres.

At its core, the GFPCI is an environmental action plan that prioritizes strategies and projects that will have the greatest positive impact on improving the health of Forest Park. The GFPCI is focused on four key goals and conservation activities, including:

  • Streams: Protecting and improving water quality in the Park’s more than 30 miles of streams, to safeguard watershed functions and human health
  • Connectivity: Protecting and improving the connectivity between Forest Park, the Tualatin Mountains, the Coast Range and the Willamette River
  • Forests: Maintaining and improving forests to support diversity, environmental integrity, connectivity and complexity
  • Wildlife: Maintaining and protecting native wildlife diversity The GFPCI is a significant undertaking in many ways. In addition to identifying needed restoration efforts inside the Park, the GFPCI recognizes the importance of the larger link between Forest Park and the Coast Range. The GFPCI also calls for protection and restoration efforts in areas immediately adjacent to the Park, to help stop the continual re-infestation of invasives and other threats from the outside of the Park’s boundaries.

A Partnership at Work

But a plan–and especially one as significant as the GFPCI–means nothing without progress. And progress can’t be effective without essential partnerships. The problems facing Forest Park are massive, complex and varied. It takes a village of organizations and individuals who are committed and willing to bring their expertise and resources to the table to help advance meaningful solutions.

As part of building this collaboration with partners, we need to track our success which is why we teamed up with METRO, Portland Parks & Recreation and West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District to create a Unified Monitoring Protocol. With this tool, we will all use the same methods to track our progress. 

Led by Forest Park Conservancy, our growing network of public and non-profit GFPCI partners are already making a difference, both on the ground in Forest Park and in the surrounding area. GFPCI partners include:

  • Forest Park Conservancy
  • West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation Service
  • Metro
  • Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
  • Portland Parks and Recreation
  • Friends of Trees
  • Audubon Society
  • Columbia Land Trust
  • Forest Park Neighborhood Association
  • Linnton Neighborhood Association
  • Intertwine Alliance
  • PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions
  • PSU Institute for Economics and the Environment
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Skyline Ridge Neighbors
  • Neighbors for Clean Air 

Taking Action for a Healthier Forest Park

GFPCI partners work together to identify key projects, collaborating on solutions and bringing individual resources to bear to help accomplish specific GFPCI goals. These efforts range from such vital activities as invasive species removal and native re-vegetation projects, to environmental quality monitoring and public education and outreach.

Recent restoration work in the Balch Creek area is an example of how GFPCI partnerships are working towards a healthier Forest Park. By teaming with Portland Parks & Recreation and Metro, more than 250 acres in Balch Creek have been treated to remove destructive and highly-invasive English ivy, allowing for the regrowth of native vegetation. Along with West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, the Forest Park Conservancy also has rallied community volunteers to help with hand-pulling invasive plants and promoted neighborhood awareness and education to ensure longer-term protection.

The restoration of Balch Creek demonstrates the progress being made towards a number of GFPCI goals, such as improving watershed quality, enhancing habitat and removing invasive species. And it’s just one of several projects that GFPCI partners are working to tackle. Others include restoration initiatives in the Holman Wedge and Pittock Mansion area, FPC’s old-growth forest preserve and an industrial greening initiative “Getting Green to Work”.

FPC's staff members leading the Initiative are Renee Myers and Alejandro Orizola. And our Canopy Weeds Program is led by Cody Chambers

Tree ivy removal and native planting.

Get Involved: Become a GFPCI Supporter

By giving to the Forest Park Conservancy, you can help advance essential GFPCI projects and efforts that are working to ensure a healthier Forest Park. A special thanks to the many caring individuals and organizations who have already committed to supporting the GFPCI, including KEEN Footwear, Bill Healy Foundation, Maybelle Clark MacDonald Fund, The Standard, New Outlook Financial and others.

But to achieve the vision of a healthy Forest Park, we need everyone’s help. If you are interested in contributing, please contact us. Business support sponsorships of GFPCI projects also are available. To learn more, please contact our Executive Director, Renee Myers (503-223-5449, ext. 105) or our Development & Communications Director Sheryl Sackman (503-223-5449, ext.107).

You can learn more about our trails and restoration projects on our website. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, our Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator, Zachary Peal

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