From a bird’s-eye view, Glencoe Swale appears to be a vibrant, healthy ribbon of green space meandering through booming residential neighborhoods in northern Hillsboro. This 4-mile-long urban creek originates in an industrial area near Evergreen Parkway before traveling past high-tech manufacturers, the city’s public works yard, and the Hillsboro Airport. It eventually enters residential neighborhoods and winds past schools and other community sites.
But up close, on the ground, staff from Clean Water Services, City of Hillsboro, and Tualatin SWCD can see that this natural area needs some help in order to reach its full ecological potential. Invasive species such as reed canary grass, Himalayan blackberry, and deadly nightshade are preventing native shrubs, trees, and other wetland plants from establishing and providing important food sources for wildlife that call this area home.
Now, several community organizations and local government groups, including the Tualatin SWCD, are coming together to enhance the entire 4-mile stretch of Glencoe Swale.
In 2018, Clean Water Services and the City of Hillsboro began removing invasive species on 64 acres of city-owned property and replanting the area with a diverse mix of native shrubs and trees. Shortly thereafter, the Tualatin SWCD began working with neighboring Jackson School Homeowners Association (HOA) to restore habitat on their 14 acres of forest perched just above the swale. This forest acts as a critical link for wildlife, as many amphibians and reptiles depend on both forested and wetland habitat types to complete their entire life cycle.
The community is eager to assist with improving the health of the forested area and the swale. In March 2019, more than 100 volunteers showed up for a very successful restoration event led by Friends of Trees to remove invasive English ivy and plant native trees and shrubs. That same spring, Tualatin SWCD’s Urban Conservation Program hosted a kickoff party to celebrate the launch of the Glencoe Swale Habitat Restoration Project. More than 50 HOA members and neighbors attended to learn about this multi-year plan for habitat restoration and how this project will improve both wildlife habitat and water quality in the swale. Since then, a local community group, Friends of Glencoe Swale, has been busy organizing community members to participate in storm drain marking, litter pick-up events, and monthly group meetings at the Jackson School HOA community meeting space.
Additionally, to ensure that community members can easily access and connect with the improved natural areas, Tualatin SWCD has been working with a trails consultant to design a more resilient and sustainable trail system through the Jackson School HOA forest. Using an online survey and two trail user stakeholder meetings, TSWCD learned just how important this trail system is as a connector for workers, recreationalists, and students who travel between downtown Hillsboro and adjacent neighborhoods.
Tualatin SWCD will continue to reach out to private landowners with wetland and streamside properties along the Glencoe Swale corridor. TSWCD staff can develop conservation plans with landowner feedback and provide funding to complete all habitat restoration activities. The overarching goal is to work with willing landowners to ensure that Glencoe Swale can become a vibrant, green wildlife corridor and reach its full ecological potential.
You can find more information about this project on the Tree for All website.