Columbia Land Trust’s Portland office is a new hub for conservation innovation.
Land Trust. The very phrase evokes deep forests, wild rivers, pristine wetlands, and boot-clad naturalists with field notes tucked under their arms. Columbia Land Trust’s new Portland of re-located on the eastside waterfront near the heart of downtown Portland—turns that perception on its ear. Fit snugly between Dig-A-Pony, a retro speakeasy, and Mother Foucault’s bookshop, the brick storefront at 511 Southeast Morrison Street serves as a new base for conservation in the Northwest.
Columbia Land Trust shares its new space with the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization, and the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts (COLT), a newly formed organization that serves Oregon’s broader land trust community. After only a few months of cohabitation, a symbiotic relationship is forming among the three groups. Together, we’re coordinating initiatives that are strengthening land trusts and expanding conservation and stewardship efforts throughout the Northwest.
The new Portland office doesn’t just look different from environments traditionally associated with land trusts. The metropolitan, well-connected location reflects the Land Trust’s comprehensive approach to conservation—an approach that recognizes the value of natural, working, and developed lands. Gaylen Beatty, manager of the Backyard Habitat certification program (a partnership with Columbia Land Trust and Audubon Society of Portland), is based out of the new Portland office. The program is flourishing as urban residents embrace opportunities to learn about nature and restore valuable wildlife habitat, one yard at a time.
The new space also represents the Land Trust’s values of thrift and environmental responsibility. The office sits at the intersection of several major bus lines, bike routes, and Portland Streetcar’s Central Loop, providing ample modes of alternative transportation. Bike storage and an office shower sweeten the deal for cyclists.
The space, an old storefront, was renovated on a budget through the creative use of existing materials and the hard work of the Land Trust’s incredible volunteers. Reused flooring now serves as accent paneling throughout the space, and vintage light fixtures salvaged by our landlord supplement the natural light provided by large front windows.
As with most Columbia Land Trust ventures, the Portland office renovation was possible only through the generosity of friends and partners. Gordon King donated brokerage services, and we received a good deal from our landlord, Marty Urman, who is a strong supporter of land conservation. Henneberry Eddy Architects provided their services at a steep discount, and our builder, Job Scott of Vara, led our volunteer efforts.
Columbia Land Trust’s roots, and its main office, reside in Vancouver, Washington. But its mission to protect the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Columbia River region take its staff from the remote regions of Klickitat Canyon to the coastal estuaries of Grays Bay, and from the working forests of Skamania County to the streets of downtown Portland. It’s a diverse region, and it takes a diverse range of ideas and perspectives to protect it.
Whether it’s in the conference room, around the coffeemaker, or at “Dig-A-Land-Trust” happy hour next door, Columbia Land Trust’s staff and its allies in Portland are collaborating on innovative ways to preserve the wild heart of the Northwest. All are welcome to stop in and contribute their time, talents, and passion for conservation. Just look for the frosted tree line spanning our front windows.