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Restoring Our Trails: Friends of Fanno Creek Headwaters

What began as a one-woman expedition to improve trails has expanded to become a demonstration project for native plants, habitat restoration, and stormwater management in SW Portland.

[Image: Friends of Fanno Creek Headwaters volunteers doing restoration work on a bioswale to help prevent trail flooding.]

Fanno Creek is a 15-mile long tributary of the Tualatin River, running from Tigard to Portland, boasting a 32-mile watershed. Urban watersheds like Fanno Creek or Oaks Bottom, a watershed a few miles away in Portland, play an important part in their respective ecosystems. They support aquatic life, like coastal cutthroat salmon and water native plants. The watershed is also home to coyotes, snakes, salamanders, owls and other animals commonly found in the Portland metro area...including a community of people as diverse as its animal population.

Andrea Wall, a long-time environmental advocate and community gatherer, has spearheaded the group Friends of Fanno Creek Headwaters, to address the need for restoration, removal of non-native plants and planting of native ones along the SW 25th Ave Community Trail. Andrea, who has been a steward of trail since 2017) has found a growing coalition of neighborhood volunteers through SOLVE and other outreach to install native plants alongside the trail and perform upkeep to maintain a healthy habitat for native species.

The trail has been designated a 'safe route to school' for Robert Gray Middle School and Neighborhood House Head Start Program students, and is a through-route for people traveling to and from the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, Orthodox Jewish Synagogue, neighborhood bus stops, Hillsdale Dog Park, and Hillsdale and Multnomah town centers.

Southwest Portland lacks the system of sidewalks that are present in other sections of Portland so Andrea and others rely on trails such as this one to get around. It takes her about 20-30 hours per week to dedicate to this project and her group, especially when applying for grants.

Since that first project over 10 years ago, Friends of Fanno Creak Headwaters (FOFCH) has expanded to a group of over 400 volunteers whose projects range from trail restoration, bug shelters, pollinator gardens, adding stairs to steep sections of trail, invasive plant removal and more. Their work is key in building a safer, sustainable future for community members and for wildlife who call urban areas their home.

[Image: The Fanno Creek Watershed supports a wide range of wildlife, including salmon, coyotes and even owls.]

FOFCH’s next step is to restore the trail on SW Capitol Highway and Vermont on the other side of the creek’s headwaters, connecting the areas that they have so tirelessly spent restoring since 2009, and the Foundation is proud to help them get there by fiscally sponsoring this project.

Do you want to help build a better future for humans and wildlife in Portland and across Oregon? Donate to the Oregon Wildlife Foundation and help make projects like these possible.

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