Monday, December 26, 2011

Cottonwood Bay expedition

Cottonwood Bay


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Today's thrilling adventure takes us to tiny Cottonwood Bay Park, on the Willamette River a bit south of the South Waterfront area. It's a tiny nature area along the Willamette Greenway Trail, right next to the swanky Avalon Hotel. In fact, according to a KATU story about the park, the place was spruced up and made into a formal city park in 1995 when the hotel went in.

Cottonwood Bay

Prior to that, as a city ecologist describes it, "...the area wasn't a park but was instead one of those forgotten tax lots that just kind of fade into the background without anyone noticing". The article isn't clear about who owned it then, but it doesn't mention anything about the city buying the land, so I suspect it was yet another chunk of land the city owned for years and had completely forgotten about. I've run across so many of those over time that it's easy to imagine that's what was going on.

I would kind of take issue with the "without anyone noticing" bit. I notice this stuff all the time; it's just that nobody notices me. But I digress.

Cottonwood Bay

The city's 2009 vegetation unit survey for the place (map, detail pdf) describes the park as "Unit consists of a bank above a rocky and debris laden beach of the Willamette River." It explains the park is indeed dominated by cottonwood trees, and invasive blackberry removal has been very successful.

Cottonwood Bay

The survey also notes, perplexingly, that "There is a luxury homeless camp on the north part of the unit on the beach." I have no idea what a "luxury homeless camp" could possibly be. These are archive photos from back in 2007 and I didn't see anything like that at the time, but it's true the economy was in better shape back then. I haven't gone back to check, but my guess is it's a regular old homeless camp, plus a lazy proofreader at City Hall. If they can lose track of a chunk of valuable riverfront land for years, they can probably write nonsensical descriptions of it too.

Cottonwood Bay

Cottonwood Bay

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