From Forest to Front Yard - Columbia Land Trust
A New Backyard Habitat Demonstration Site Offers Native Plant Inspiration

Native plants are the backbone of a healthy ecosystem, and in the Portland metropolitan area we are lucky to have many organizations and groups working to promote and plant native species.

Friends of Tryon Creek (FOTC), based in Tryon Creek State Park, is a long-time collaborator with the Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP), which is co-managed by Columbia Land Trust and the Bird Alliance of Oregon (formerly Portland Audubon). Since 2012, FOTC has led Backyard Habitat site visits and outreach in Lake Oswego and promoted the program at their events, which support their mission to inspire every community to identify, cultivate, or reclaim their relationship with nature. 

Recently, FOTC has been restoring a section of the park near the Nature Center, with the goal of highlighting the overlap between what grows in the forest and what can grow in a yard and other urban and suburban landscapes. The area originally had a trail running through it, and for a time functioned as an open space where groups would congregate, until FOTC and Oregon State Park rangers decided to replant with natives and create an educational “demonstration site” with signage and plant identification placards.

“This site is a great way to showcase the direct connection between backyard and forest habitats,” said Amy Stout, Friends of Tryon Creek Engagement Coordinator. “This idea began with our staff and spread to volunteers and nursery partners who envisioned how a diverse array of native plants would provide a wonderful learning opportunity and inspire park visitors. It will connect people to everyday actions that can improve our shared environment.”

Depending on soil conditions, many plant species visible from the trails at Tryon also thrive in local yards and gardens. Evergreens like Oregon grape and salal and ground cover layers like Western red columbine and fringecup improve habitat for wildlife, and plants like trillium, fawn lilies, tiger lilies, and Fairy Bells create beautiful springtime blooms.

The Tryon site was BHCP certified at the Silver level, with three canopy layers, a storm water management system, and two wildlife stewardship practices in place. (There are window decals to prevent bird strikes, and they ‘leaves the leaves’ to create invertebrate habitat and improve soil.)

“The staff at Friends of Tryon Creek and Oregon State Parks have created an incredible new demonstration garden that is accessible and approachable,” said Susie Peterson, Backyard Habitat Program Co-Manager. “FOTC does an amazing job of creating welcoming spaces for anyone to visit and learn more about the native plants and animals we have in our region.”

Thriving backyard habitats extend the ecological benefits of Tryon Creek State Natural Area for wildlife, pollinators, and all nearby neighbors. If you live in Lake Oswego and have questions about the Backyard Habitat Program, contact

We invite you to visit Tryon Creek and check out the certified site and programs which include summer camps, guided nature walks, community ecology talks, and native plant sales!

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