The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District is pleased to announce the upcoming purchase of a 319-acre forest parcel near Estacada.  This long-term investment is made possible through our partnership with The Trust for Public Land and financial support from the US Forest Service’s Community Forest program.

The District’s goals for the Eagle Creek Community Forest include:

  • improving habitat for fish and wildlife,
  • creating additional recreational opportunities, and
  • generating revenue from occasional timber harvests.

This acquisition preserves the use of the land for forestry.  It connects to over 1,000 acres of nearby public and conserved lands.  The community forest will extend recreational opportunities at Eagle Fern Park and support habitat restoration and continued harvest of timber.  Read more in this PDF document: Eagle Creek Community Forest Overview – TPL

Several salmon-bearing streams are present.  Eagle Creek and North Fork Eagle Creek bound the property.  Suter Creek passes through the eastern part of the property.

(Photos above by David Bugni, Estacada, Oregon)

Property location

The property is located immediately southeast of Eagle Fern Park near Estacada, Oregon.

Location of the Eagle Creek Community Forest project (map by The Trust for Public Land)

Location of the Eagle Creek Community Forest project (map by The Trust for Public Land)

Upcoming purchase

The current property owner is Weyerhaeuser.  Our purchase will occur through a partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL).  Funding is being provided through a Community Forest grant from the U.S. Forest Service and funds provided by the District.

The Community Forest grant award was signed by the District on September 11, 2018.  On October 1, we received the final award letter signed by the U.S.  Forest Service.  The award is for $550,000 to help with the acquisition of the property.  The appraised value of the property is $1.3 million so the grant reduces the District’s net acquisition cost to $750,000.

Our purchase-and-sale agreement with TPL has them acquiring the property and then immediately selling it to the District at cost.  At the present time, we are aiming for closing the purchase by the end of January 2019 but this date has not yet been confirmed.

Diverse opportunities for the property

There are a variety of exciting aspects to this land acquisition:

  • Improving fish and wildlife habitat
    • Streams on and near the property host runs of coho salmon and winter steelhead.
    • A few elk herds visit the property.
  • Working with neighbors
    • Portland General Electric and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hold forest tracts adjoining the Eagle Creek Community Forest.
    • PGE has expressed an interest in maintaining the mature forest habitat on their parcels.
    • BLM has no plans to harvest their parcels before 2023.
  • Enhancing recreation
    • The northwest corner of the property touches Eagle Fern Park.  This park is a beautiful place to recreate.
    • Public recreational uses may include walking trails, bicycle trails, and birding/photography.
    • If neighboring property owners are agreeable, a substantial increase in trails may be possible.
  • Careful harvests
    • Long-term modification of the forest toward a more diverse, mature forest is possible.
    • Some parts of the property are ready for pre-commercial thinning now.
    • Commercial harvests are still a few decades away.
  • Public education
    • Managing the property for multiple uses presents opportunities for public education about forest management.

Possible locations for trails are shown below.  Please note that we have not yet negotiated agreements with other landowners to allow these trails.  At present, these trails represent a concept that remains to be evaluated.

Possible trail locations, Eagle Creek Community Forest (map by The Trust for Public Land)

Possible trail locations, Eagle Creek Community Forest (map by The Trust for Public Land)

The Community Forest Advisory Committee

The District will convene an Eagle Creek Community Forest Advisory Committee in the near future.  Along with some local community members, representatives of the following entities have agreed to participate on the Committee:

  • Clackamas County Parks and Forest
  • Clackamas River Basin Council
  • Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Eagle Creek National Fish Hatchery and US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Metro
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon State University Extension Service — Forestry and Natural Resources
  • Portland General Electric
  • The Trust for Public Land
  • US Forest Service

The Community Forest Plan

The Committee will assist the District in developing a Community Forest Plan.

According to the federal rule governing this program, a community forest is: Forest land owned in fee-simple by an eligible entity that provides public access and is managed to provide community benefits pursuant to a community forest plan.

The plan is:  A tract specific plan that guides the management and use of a community forest, was developed with community involvement, and includes the following components:

  1. A description of the property, including acreage and county location, land use, forest type and vegetation cover;
  2. Objectives for the community forest;
  3. Community benefits to be achieved from the establishment of the community forest;
  4. Mechanisms promoting community involvement in the development and implementation of the community forest plan;
  5. Implementation strategies for achieving community forest plan objectives;
  6. Plans for the utilization or demolition of existing structures and proposed needs for further improvements;
  7. Planned public access, including proposed limitations to protect cultural or natural resources, or public health and safety. In addition, local governments and qualified nonprofits need to provide a rationale for any proposed limitations; and
  8. A description for the long-term use and management of the property.

Thank you

Thank you to the many people who have made it possible to move this project forward.  A group of core partners helped craft the grant proposal, investing substantial time and energy in this work.  Without the entire team, the project would not have successfully competed for funding.

We are excited to take the next steps: forming the Advisory Committee and developing the Community Forest Plan.  Many of the people who were active in developing the project will be participants on the Advisory Committee.

Public comment is welcome

The District welcomes public comment.  Please use the form below:

Nondiscrimination statement

Clackamas SWCD is pleased to publish the following nondiscrimination statement as required by the terms of the Community Forest grant:

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Tom Salzer

Tom has worked with conservation districts since 1992, managing district operations and providing statewide help on governance, technology, and accountability issues.

Community Forest