A Win-win on Hood River bluffs
Columbia Land Trust and the Hood River Valley Parks & Recreation District partnered to conserve 40 acres along the lower Hood River, with plans to add to city’s trail network
(March 22, 2019) – Columbia Land Trust and the Hood River Valley Parks & Recreation District recently announced they are partnering on a plan to add a stretch of trail to Hood River’s Indian Creek trail network while also conserving valuable wildlife habitat along the Lower Hood River.
Through a partnership with Sieverkropp Development, the Land Trust recently acquired 40 acres of land between the Lower Hood River and where the Indian Creek Southside Connector Trail currently ends adjacent to Eliot Park. These steep bluffs feature Douglas-fir and oak forests that offer important riverside habitat for local wildlife, including elk, deer, black bear, osprey, eagles, and waterfowl. The property adds to 400 acres along the river’s Powerdale Corridor already conserved by the Land Trust and Hood River County.
The Land Trust and the Parks District are partnering on this project in the hopes that in addition to benefitting local flora and fauna, the property will also feature a scenic trail along the bluff. In order to do that, the Parks District acquired an easement on a small section of land that connects the existing trail’s endpoint with the Land Trust property.
“We’re in the middle of a multi-agency parks master planning process with the city, the county, the Port of Hood River, and the local school district, and our outreach and surveys tell us the people of Hood River overwhelming want more trails and walking paths in town,” says Parks District Director Mark Hickok. “This is a great opportunity to help address their number one priority.”
While the trail project, which falls within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, is not currently funded and is at the beginning of the permitting process, the Land Trust and the Parks District are optimistic that their partnership will result in a valued community asset that provides local neighborhoods easy access to scenic natural areas.
Hickok notes that plans could possibly include a naturescaped playground and picnic tables at a scenic overlook where a section of the Indian Creek Trail currently dead ends. The trail would also connect Culbertson Park to the existing trail network which runs through Elliot Park to downtown via the 2nd street stairs and Hazel Ave.
“This project provides an important buffer of natural land along the river as the city grows denser,” says Kate Conley, Natural Area Manager with Columbia Land Trust. “We’re excited at the prospect of formalizing a trail in an area where many locals already walk to exercise and enjoy nature.”
The planned trail along the top of the bluff would not provide access down to the river due to safety and erosion concerns associated with building a trail down the extremely steep terrain. The Land Trust will continue to work with the community to find ways to safely connect the conserved lands in the Powerdale Corridor to the city.
The Land Trust thanks the representatives of Sieverkropp Development for their generous donation that enabled this project.