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Photo: Portland Parks and Recreation
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 17 June 2024

Portland’s Vibrant Communities Commissioner Dan Ryan has allocated additional development funds to complete a key Southeast Portland natural area project. The effort to provide the first natural area management plan for Kelly Butte Natural Area is now fully funded and will increase access with new trails and amenities.

Kelly Butte Natural Area is located just south of SE Division Street and immediately east of Interstate 205 in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.

This project will provide much-needed access to and within Kelly Butte Natural Area when complete. Commissioner Ryan has allocated an additional $560,000 in System Development Charges (SDCs) to the project, ensuring its financial stability. The entire project budget of $2.56 million is from SDC funds. Park SDCs are one-time fees assessed on new development. They are not General Fund tax dollars. SDCs help ensure that, as the city’s population grows, its quality of life keeps pace with its infrastructure needs. SDC funds may only be used to improve and expand park features and capacity, providing a secure and dedicated source of funding for this important project.  

“East Portland has long been known as an area with fewer parks and natural areas than the rest of the city,” says Vibrant Communities Commissioner Ryan. “To help address that gap, the changes to Kelly Butte Natural Area will provide the community with about 23 acres of outdoor recreation space while continuing to protect wildlife and habitat.”

The bureau expects to start the project in the next few months. Potential amenities, which will be determined through community engagement and design efforts, may include new trails, signage, and parking.

“This is a project that the Portland Parks & Recreation City Nature team and I are excited to see starting,” says PP&R Director Adena Long. “Portland Parks & Recreation is committed to building a network of parks and natural areas located throughout Portland — particularly in areas such as outer Southeast Portland, which are underserved.”   

Portland’s natural areas provide visitors opportunities to rest, relax, and recharge, while providing our community with unique educational opportunities, ecosystem services, and functions.  Kelly Butte is one of many cinder cones formed from the Boring Lava Field connected to Oregon’s volcanic history. The top was not inundated during the Missoula floods, protecting its native geology. The site is also home to a healthy Douglas fir forest and small open meadows that provide ecological value for pollinators, improved water quality, enhanced biodiversity, wildlife habitat, urban heat island mitigation with shading, stormwater interception and treatment, and improved air quality.

Community engagement is coming

Once the project start-up phase begins, PP&R staff will design a community engagement process tailored to the project and the neighborhood. Your input is crucial in providing an overall park design and establishing goals and dreams for the site. Commissioner Ryan’s funding allocation allows for the planning, design, and construction phases for some of the elements of the plan to proceed quickly.

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