Portland Metro Area & Backyard Habitat Certification - Columbia Land Trust

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.
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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.

Photo by Lenkerbrook Photography
Featured Story

Answers in the Trees

Understanding the role of Northwest forests in tackling climate change

More and more, we’re reading about how trees can be a solution to climate change. (We wrote about it in the previous issue of Fieldbook, in fact.) The topic has generated a number of questions about what trees can do, what they can’t do, and how we can best go about working with forests as a climate solution strategy. To answer these questions, let’s start with the…

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Updates from the Field
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Volunteer with the Backyard Habitat Program
Help your neighbors transform their yards and community sites into habitats!

POSTPONED – Due to concerns regarding the spread of the COVID-19 illness, this volunteer training has been postponed. A new date for the training is yet to be determined. We will update this page when a date is set.  The Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP) is an environmental stewardship program that supports community members in…

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Nature Knows Best
Natural climate solutions represent a key strategy to combat climate change

If you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet that you care about the environment (thank you). It’s also a safe bet that in the process of staying informed about the challenges of pollution, habitat loss, and global climate change, you’ve recently found yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer gravity of it all. It seems as…

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A Place to Call Home
Danielle Miles creates an unexpected habitat for the Oregon Slender Salamander

By Rachael Steinke  Life persists in unexpected places. Danielle Miles, a biology teacher at David Douglas High School and Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP) participant, witnessed this phenomenon one afternoon in her Southeast Portland backyard.   While moving things around, Miles lifted up a set of aged cornhole boards and came across what appeared to be numerous worms wriggling in the dirt. Deciding to relocate them, Miles quickly realized these tiny creatures…

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