Saturday, August 16, 2014

SW Shattuck & Vermont

Our next adventure takes us out to the hills of SW Portland, to the busy corner of SW Shattuck & Vermont. A while ago I'd noticed on some map or other that the city owned a ~2.3 acre chunk of undeveloped land at the corner, and I figured it might be another obscure city park or something, so I put it on my seemingly endless todo list. It turns out this is a little wetland area owned by the Bureau of Environmental Services, the agency responsible for both stormwater and sewers. A short stretch of Vermont Creek flows through here, after leaving Gabriel Park. The wetland area is easily visible from Vermont St., but there's nowhere to park nearby on either Vermont or Shattuck. I had the idea I'd turn onto 63rd Ave., which as you can see on the map forms the remaining two sides of the diamond-shaped parcel. It looked like a small quiet street, and I figured I could park there and get a look at the marsh, maybe see a heron or something. It turns out that basically every map you might encounter is inaccurate here; much of the 63rd Ave. right of way was vacated years ago, and the street quickly ends at someone's driveway. The stern "Do Not Enter" sign there sort of indicated I wasn't the first person to be misled by looking at a current map. So I just turned around and got whatever photos I could without parking the car, and that was that.

So what do we know about this place? A BES page lists this spot as a "stream restoration activity", and another lists it among various construction projects they've done here over the years. A BES document about Fanno Creek tributaries mentions that the city's Urban Services Boundary is at Shattuck Rd., such that the creek flows out of the city right here. Maybe this is a last-chance water quality project, so that Beaverton can't sue. Or maybe it's for flood control (a city engineer's drainage plans for a subdivision just across Vermont St. indicate flooding is a problem around here.) Or maybe it's here to compensate for the Alpenrose Dairy just uphill, or it's some sort of mandatory federal wetland mitigation, or it's a water quality project to protect fish downstream in the Fanno Creek watershed. Or some combination of all of these things.

Regardless, I don't think it's really set up for public access. There aren't any "Do Not Enter" signs on the parcel itself, and I didn't see a fence. But there also isn't a "Welcome Birdwatchers! Love, your BES besties." sign or anything else that would welcome visitors. It just sort of looks like a random empty lot with a stream through it, which may explain the occasional illegal mattress dumping issues. So for the time being I wouldn't rank this place very high if I compiled a list of cool secret Portland spots to visit. Oh well.

1 comment :

Chris Gilson said...

That little section of 63rd is the remnants of an 1857 territorial road. It jogged there and continued NE following what is now Shattuck. The road continued SW from that point and eventually connected to what is now Oleson Road.