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.

Salmon charging upstream. Photo by Brian Chambers Photography
Featured Story

Traveling Upstream

Executive Director Glenn Lamb checks in on the efforts of the Land Trust's Conservation Agenda, and shares major priorities that lie ahead.

  In 2017 Columbia Land Trust staff prepared a Conservation Agenda for the next 25 years of our work. The two major goals that we zeroed in on: Conserve more land and engage more people. In this effort, we want to ensure nature in the Northwest thrives even as our population grows, and that underrepresented…

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Updates from the Field
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[Guest Story] Watching the Backyard
A backyard habitat member shares his joy of restoring habitat as a retired ecologist struggling with a recent illness, and the power gardens can have on young minds.

  Over the past several months I have been struggling with a degenerative nerve disease that began six years ago and forced me to retire from teaching at the college level shortly thereafter. Part of the reason for revealing this is that our relatively advanced backyard habitat gives me a great deal of pleasure, even…

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Planting Zen Volunteer Day
Roll up your sleeves alongside the Land Trust's Emerging Leaders Council at NE Portland's Dharma Rain Zen Center for a day of backyard habitat restoration.

Want to experience one of the Columbia Land Trust Emerging Leaders Council’s favorite places? The Dharma Rain Zen Center is a true gem in the vibrant Madison South neighborhood of Northeast Portland. Situated on a historic landfill, the landowners are currently part way through rewilding the land with native plants and removing stubborn invasive ones…

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Backyard Continued
The Backyard Habitat Certification Program announces its expansion into more area of Clackamas County.

  The Backyard Habitat Certification Program, a collaboration between Columbia Land Trust and the Audubon Society of Portland, 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…

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