Portland Metro Area & Backyard Habitat Certification

The Backyard Habitat Program turns yards wild.
  • Number of Projects:7
  • Acreage: 358
  • Fact: The tallest of Portland’s 290 designated “heritage trees” is (naturally) a Douglas-fir. Located in Macleay Park, it was, at last check, 242 feet tall.
  • Experience: Intimately connected to both the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, Oregon's most populace city also happens to be a place where nature still can be found close to home.
  • What We’re Doing: Helping create a unified vision for conserving and caring for land, water, and wildlife throughout the Portland Metro area. Co-managing the Backyard Habitat Program, which helps people grow Willamette Valley native habitats in their own yards.
Contact Us About This Project

The Big Picture

More than 2 million people live in this species-rich area located in the floodplain of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, so caring for the nature that remains is a priority for Columbia Land Trust. Since 2009, our Backyard Habitat Certification Program, co-managed with the Audubon Society, has signed up 3,000 people who are working to re-create some of the native habitat that has been lost to urbanization in their own backyards. We’ve also worked  with partners to develop a Regional Conservation Strategy (Think of it as a master plan that helps us prioritize the conservation and care of the plants, animals, and natural areas.) We also hold numerous easements for Willamette Valley landowners—which will ensure their family’s lands will never be subdivided or developed.

Why It Matters

Portland and its surrounds may be an urban landscape in look and feel, but the natural world has a strong foothold. Coho salmon still spawn. Bald eagles and osprey live near (and in) urban areas. Backyards and parks host migrating songbirds. Protecting people’s quality of life by conserving and enhancing habitat is one of Columbia Land Trust’s priorities. The challenge? With the  population slated to increase significantly in the coming years, we must be able to provide for people while also addressing the needs of native fish, wildlife, and plants.

Jumping spider (Habronattus americanus) by Thomas Shahan. Fieldbook, Spring 2018
Featured Story

Fieldbook Crawls Out for Spring

Our first edition of our 2018 Fieldbook magazine is now out!

Our newest edition of Fieldbook has all the wildlife and conservation stories you’re looking for this spring. In this issue, we break open some preconceived notions about unloved wildlife from moles to spiders, what it looks like to be an outdoors person, and how climate resilience informs our work. Learn how Jenny Bruso, self-identified fat,…

Read More
Updates from the Field
View All
Backyard Continued
The Backyard Habitat Certification Program announces its expansion into more area of Clackamas County.

  Columbia Land Trust’s Backyard Habitat Certification Program is embarking on the second phase of its expansion into Clackamas County and we couldn’t be more thrilled! The first phase of expansion, which included Milwaukie, West Linn, Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge, was a huge success, with more than 150 new enrollments in the last year.…

Read More
Backyard Confidential
Notes from inside the backyard habitat certification process

My wife Kim and I enrolled in the Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP) in 2015, just a few months after we bought our first home in North Portland. Aside from some encroaching ivy, holly, and English laurel, our backyard was an empty patch of dirt—and we had no idea what to do with it. Nearly three…

Read More
Hear the Cranes Come
A farming experiment is benefiting endangered sandhill cranes and could establish new research for crane conservation in the Northwest.

It’s 7 a.m. and ecologist Rob Dillinger sits in his car alongside a cornfield near the Frenchman’s Bar Park in Vancouver, Washington. He’s waiting for something magical to occur. A rattling baritone call heralds the approach of sandhill cranes stretching above the lower Columbia River from Oregon’s Sauvie Island. They come here for the food,…

Read More