Plans for new EP HydroPark and Powell Butte Safety revealed

Read what Powellhurst Gilbert neighbors learned about their new park – and plans being put in place to mitigate fires on Powell Butte …

Portland Parks Bureau naturalist Mark Hughes and Portland Fire and Rescue planner Chris Brian talk about the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for Powell Butte.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Not long ago, neighbors in Powellhurst-Gilbert learned a lot about plans to improve Powell Butte, add amenities to their large neighborhood, and reduce crime.

Powell Butte Plans
Portland Parks Bureau naturalist Mark Hughes and Portland Fire and Rescue planner Chris Brian talked about the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

“The city started developing this plan in 2004,” Brian began. “This is a city-level plan to consider contingencies for dealing with problems caused by fires, floods and weather. We’re looking at the smaller piece, namely wildfires.”

Chris said the plan was being developed with a grant from FEMA to develop emergency wildfire plans for large, urban natural areas such as Powell Butte. “We’re working with the Parks Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services to address the issues in city.

“We’re trying to clean out woody growth that can fuel fires,” explained the Parks Bureau ecologist, Mark Hughes. “This is a three year project.” So far, he added, the project has involved primarily discussion and planning. Much of the clean-out work will be done during the summer of 2007.

Hughes said, as the parks ecologist for Powell Butte, he’s responsible for this large outer East Portland park. “I try to figure out what will make a healthy, sustainable park. Our goal is to develop grasslands and watersheds.”

Under a master plan developed in 1996, and a conditional use update three years ago, the 600-acre park is to have about 300 acres of grassland and 300 acres of forest surrounding the top of the butte.

The park ecologist said the butte is also a wildlife refuge. “It has 30 black tailed deer and a number of coyotes. About 160 species of birds live there, due to the diversity of grass and trees.”

Under the plan, Hughes assured that the forest will look the same. “The butte is infected with English Hawthorne and Himalaya blackberry,” continued Hughes. “Both of these non-native plants are tenaciously invasive. We’ll remove them as best we can. We need to change the grassland from non-native European orchard grasses to native. And, the master plan calls for planting Oregon Oak and Willamette Valley wildflowers.

“We’ve had three larger fires in six years,” Hughes commented. The first was 10 acres and looked like arson. The next year, a five-acre fire was touched off with a cigarette lighter. Later that summer there was a 45-acre fire on a hot, windy day. By better managing grass land, we can reduce fire danger.”

Powellhurst Gilbert HydroPark
Portland’s Water Commissioner Randy Leonard started the idea of turning fenced-off bureau lands into neighborhood parks. It was announced at this neighborhood association meeting that the newest park being planned for outer East Portland will be at SE 138th Ave. and Center St.

“We’re considering what amenities to put into the HydroPark,” said Portland Parks Bureau’s area manager Tom Klutz. “We’ll survey people who live around the park; they’ll have to contend with positive or negatives that come from the development of the park.

Crime issues in southern outer East Portland
“We’re seeing more graffiti,” said Portland Police Bureau’s Sgt. Preston. “Here members of the ‘EK’ gangs have been a problem. We’ve identified houses here associated with the gang. They are actively involved in the drug trade, cars thefts, burglaries, dope rip-offs.”

The sergeant suggested reporting any criminal activities and immediately cleaning graffiti as ways to help reduce gang activities.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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