Re-greening Portland Together Green Project.
The Audubon Society of Portland's East-side Branch at Leach Botanical Garden not only offers environmental education programs to diverse audiences, but also serves as a base of operations for some of our efforts to increase access to nature in east Portland and Gresham. The branch allows us to significantly extend our conservation education and advocacy in new urbanizing communities like Damascus, Springwater and Pleasant Valley, and in rapidly redeveloping neighborhoods like Rockwood, Lents and Gateway, which will accommodate much of the region’s future urban growth. That growth creates a variety of challenges and opportunities for fostering urban neighborhoods where people and wildlife can flourish together.
One of those challenges is maintaining and expanding access to nature for everyone. The Coalition for a Livable Future’s 2006 Regional Equity Atlas - www.equityatlas.org - identified neighborhoods in east Portland and west Gresham as the most park-and-natural area deficient in the Portland-metro region. These communities host some amazing natural assets, including Johnson Creek, the Columbia Slough and numerous East Butte natural areas. However, most of these neighborhoods have relatively poor access to nearby natural features and to neighborhood parks due to low street connectivity and a history of poorly planned development and inadequate investment in parks.
Consequently, a number of recent community plans have identified the need to improve access to parks and nature, especially as new growth and development threaten scarce urban greenspaces. In existing developed areas, this same growth and redevelopment also provides an opportunity to integrate nature back into the urban landscape with new parks, neighborhood greenways, greens streets, tree plantings, ecoroofs and other green infrastructure improvements. In east Portland and west Gresham, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-green and re-nature the urban landscape from the ground up as it redevelops into more compact, walkable urban neighborhoods
Regreening Portland from the Ground Up - a conservation project launched from our East-side Branch - is one of the ways the Audubon Society of Portland is working to expand access to nature where it is most deficient, and it currently involves the Nadaka Nature Park and Garden project in Gresham’s Wilkes East and Rockwood Neighborhoods.
Culturally and Biologically Diverse Neighborhoods
Urban development and redevelopment can displace both people and wildlife. A key challenge in east Portland and west Gresham will be implementing projects that link community development goals for affordable housing and transportation, access to nature, and conservation in order create and maintain both culturally and biologically diverse urban communities in the future. If we are successful, future generations of Portlanders will grow up with nature a part of their daily lives and with strong ethic of community and environmental stewardship.