By Ana Orlowsky and Maggie Hatt
The Chehalem Ridge Nature Park is a natural area just outside of Forest Grove and Cornelius that Metro is working to restore. Metro is a regional governing body that works with local communities to, as they put it, “chart a wise course for the future while protecting the things we love about this place”. The nature park is in its beginning stages, still being planned and contemplated by many different parties. The Chehalem Ridge park is special in how it’s being geared toward nature and how it is working with our community.
Metro found this area particularly interesting based on how big of a nature highway the Chehalem Ridge is. Metro wants this new nature park to be a place where many people in the surrounding cities can come and enjoy the beauties of nature. Before they can open the park up they have to do some planning. The area of the park used to be a site of logging, so the trees were crowded in the area. This does not encompass the way natural areas generally are, and does not go with the back-to-natural theme Metro has going for the park. The idea for the back-to-nature theme occurred when they bought a small section of land and realized its worth to the surrounding ecosystem. Upon this realization came the knowledge that not just the portion of land they had purchased was important, but the surrounding vicinity played a role as well. This lead to the purchase of more land to be added to the nature park, for protection of a vital watershed. According to Juan Bermejo, a person affiliated to the park through his job at Centro Cultural, the park will be very exciting in how it will mix the complexities of nature with the adventurer in all humans. Not only is going to be a huge stepping stone in protecting our surrounding area, but they are allowing surrounding communities vote on what to do with the park. The inclusion of the community will make this park a major destination for a lot of the community.
In terms of community involvement, there are many ways people can participate in planning and developing what will surely be a new refuge from everyday life for many people who live in the surrounding areas. Community members have the ability to participate in making decisions about the planting, and the different features that they would most like to see incorporated into this new natural oasis. Centro Cultural is the organization that was enlisted to help engage and involve the residents of Hillsboro more directly. Along with Centro Cultural, Adelante Chicas has set out to aid in the maintenance and care of the land as a part of the community outreach to the new nature park. In doing so, they looked more into what the community wanted for an area that will soon enough become everyone’s to share. In addition to developing a great new park, this project will continue to provide opportunities for people to get involved as it is being planned.
This park will provide great opportunities for the average Joe to get involved with the careful sculpting of a massive park. Unfortunately Juan Bermejo, who we interviewed about the park, mentioned how the park will not be officially opened until 2020. However, there are meetings held regularly where people of the surrounding communities can voice their opinions of the park. Tours of the park will be opening in July. If you want to be one of the first people who to vote on what you want in the park, then follow the Centro Cultural facebook page and keep updated about when the next meeting will be.