PNCA student designs
Creative signs designed by a PNCA student bring outdoor education to an urban forest in SW Portland.

Our urban forests and wildlife face great challenges as development, increased traffic, littering, and the spread of invasive weeds take their toll on green spaces. Organizations like the West Willamette Restoration Partnership (WWRP) are working to restore watersheds and wildlife habitat on the forested spine of the West Hills in SW Portland. WWRP, which is a partnership of agencies, non-profits, and community groups, is also working double time to educate the public on the importance of caring for native flora and fauna in our neighborhoods.

This year WWRP and Columbia Land Trust teamed up with Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) student, Egg Dahl, to design five illustrative and educational trail signs. The signs were recently installed at our Keller Woodlands property, located south of Marquam Nature Park along Terwilliger Boulevard. Each sign features a different phase of forest restoration and stewardship, illustrating the range of the forest conditions one is likely to encounter throughout our urban green spaces. The signs show how invasive weeds take over natural areas, how people are an important part of forest health, what forest restoration looks like, and how forests with diverse flora and fauna benefit people and wildlife.

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Columbia Land Trust’s Keller Woodlands site falls squarely within the area WWRP is working to restore. The 40-acre property is forested with second-growth Douglas fir, western hemlock, western red cedar, and bigleaf maple, and contains multiple creeks in the Willamette River watershed. It’s part of a chain of natural areas that traverse the West Hills of SW Portland, forming a wildlife corridor and connecting habitat in Forest Park to the north with Tryon Creek State Natural Area to the south. This local resource provides the city with hiking amenities and forested scenic vistas, in addition to enhancing local air and water quality.

This project was funded by a Metro Nature in Neighborhoods grant. You can see the signs by walking along SW Northwood Ave. between SW Westwood Dr. and SW Hessler Dr., on the Marquam Nature Trail, or along Terwilliger Boulevard Parkway.