Clackamas Water Environment Services is beginning a project to improve the environmental functions of 3-Creeks Natural Area.
Three creeks, Mt. Scott, Phillips, and Dean Creeks, converge on the site to form Mt. Scott Creek, making it an important location for surface and storm water management and natural habitat. Mt. Scott Creek flows to Kellogg Creek and then to the Willamette River.
Urbanization is taking a toll on the site, with streams eroding, habitat changing, and flooding of developed properties becoming more common. This project will enhance the floodplain, improve water quality, improve fish and wildlife habitat, and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and environmental education on the site, where feasible.
3-Creeks Natural Area benefits our entire region.
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3-Creeks Natural Area is next to the Harmony Community Campus which is home to the North Clackamas Aquatic Park and Clackamas Community College. In the midst of an industrial and urban residential area, its impressive groves of oaks and other vegetation form 89 acres of natural habitat for beavers, fish, deer, otters and more.93306
3-Creeks Natural Area is a unique and important patch of fish and wildlife habitat in an urban area. It provides stream habitat for threatened and endangered species of our native salmonids. The site contains a flood reduction facility which protects downstream properties. The wetlands absorb and store water that would otherwise run downstream and flood. The creek, wetlands, trees, and vegetation provide critical habitats so rare in an urban environment. The community has long recognized 3-Creeks Natural Area as a special place and has actively worked to protect it.
3-Creeks Natural Area is owned by Clackamas Water Environment Services which operates the existing flood reduction facility structures. The natural portion of the site is maintained by the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District through a partnership with WES. Community volunteers have been stewards of the site over the years with countless hours of invasive plant removal, native plantings, and cleanup events.
The main goals of the project are to:
- Improve the water quality of streams
- Allow the streams to overflow onto the floodplain to store more water onsite and provide more seasonal habitat for fish and other aquatic species
- Optimize performance of the existing flood reduction facility to reduce downstream flooding
- Enhance riparian and wetland habitat
- Buffer the effects of a changing climate to the extent feasible
- Provide community benefits, such as pedestrian access and environmental education, where feasible
The existing flood reduction system, which forces water to pond on the site, will remain in place. The project will likely adjust how water flows through and away from the site. This project will explore options for how that happens and consider the impacts on the site, including impacts upstream and downstream on both properties and habitat.
Stormwater and flood control
These adjustments will allow the natural area to store more stormwater. This will help protect downstream areas from flooding during our long rainy season and enhance seasonal floodplain habitat for aquatic species.
The adjustments will also improve water quality and increase wetland habitat, making the natural area a better home for wildlife. Specifically, the streams on site have been down cut and we aim to improve those conditions.
The community currently uses this area to walk, hike, and experience nature in our urban area, as well as for environmental education. Some access may shift due to wet soils or to protect sensitive areas, but the ability for the community to connect to the site will continue.