3-Creeks Natural Area Floodplain Enhancement Project

Clackamas Water Environment Services is beginning a project to improve the environmental functions of 3-Creeks Natural Area.

Oregon White Oak

Oregon White Oak at 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 stormwater management and natural habitat. Mt. Scott Creek flows into 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 pedestrian access and environmental education on the site, where feasible.

3-Creeks Natural Area benefits our entire region.

3-Creeks Natural Area Floodplain Enhancement
Project Presentation - Dec. 2, 2021

What we’ve completed so far

  • On site surveys, site assessment
  • Alternatives development and analysis including Hydraulic & Hydrologic modeling
  • Developed 30% plans and cost estimate
  • Public outreach, stakeholder meetings, and input
  • Meetings with permit agencies, seeking guidance before submitting permit applications. Attempted to schedule meetings with Oregon Dept. of State Lands (DSL), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Marine Fisheries Service and Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife-Fish (ODFW) Passage Coordinator. We were only able to get meetings with DSL and ODFW, but communicated via email with USACE.
  • Applied for grants: we applied to FEMA, NOAA Fisheries, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and Metro. We were selected for a Metro Nature in Neighborhoods Capital Grant and have a grant agreement in place as of December 2023.
  • Developed 60% plans and cost estimate
  • Prepared the Joint Permit Application for Oregon Dept. of State Lands and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers removal-fill permits
  • Completed a Preliminary Cultural Resources Assessment and shovel probe survey, and historic evaluation of the existing bridge. The shovel probe surveys turned up 16 pieces of lithic debris, considered pre-contact fragments leftover from tool-making. The bridge was determined not eligible for listing in the National Register.
  • Installed a geotechnical boring to provide information needed in bridge design.
  • Began working on an agreement with the North Clackamas Watersheds Council (NCWC) to provide outreach, as part of our Metro Nature in Neighborhoods grant. NCWC will team with Unite Oregon to include outreach to underserved communities.
  • The Wetlands Conservancy has conducted the first of two volunteer amphibian egg mass surveys. The survey found over 200 Pacific chorus frog egg masses, 24 long-toed salamander egg masses, and one red legged frog egg mass. This is a sign of very good habitat quality in the existing wetlands!

What’s next?

  • Since cultural resources were discovered in the area planned for new floodplain excavation, evaluative test excavations will be done to determine whether Clackamas Water Environment Services may proceed with floodplain enhancement in that area.
  • Gate adjustment upgrades are planned for fall or winter 2024
  • Instream work is planned for summer 2025

News about the 3-Creeks Natural Area Floodplain Enhancement Project


3 creeks map

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 beaver, fish, deer, otters and more.


Purple Flower

Beautiful Camas Lilies grow in the wetlands

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.


Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape can be found on the site

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:

Red Currant

Red Flowering Currant blooms at 3-Creeks Natural area

  • 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

White Flowers

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.

Public access

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.




SOLVE, Clackamas Water Environment Services, & Bob's Red Mill partnered to celebrate the kick-off of the SOLVE Summer Waterway Cleanup Series to remove harmful litter from the 3-Creeks Natural Area, helping to keep our streams, rivers, and communities clean and healthy!


150 Beavercreek Road #430, Oregon City, OR 97045

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