The Institute envisions an interconnected network of parks and natural areas across the region, with equitable public access where wild nature abounds. Although key anchors in the park system have been secured since the early 1990s, gaps remain and greenspace access inequities persist.
Mike Houck and Barbara Walker advocating for parks at Portland City Council, 2006.
UGI’s Mike Houck and Barbara Walker advocating for parks at Portland City Council, 2006.

Building on John Charles Olmsted’s visionary design for a comprehensive interconnected park system, the 1970 Urban Outdoors Plan and the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust’s vision, UGI’s Mike Houck helped advocate for the adoption of a bi-state regional Metropolitan Greenspaces Master Plan in 1992. In 1995 and 2006 voters passed two regional parks and nature bond measures totaling $363 million, which enabled Metro and local park providers to add over 17,000 acres of wildlife-rich natural areas for public enjoyment, ecological health, and enhanced resilience in the face of climate change.

The Urban Greenspaces Institute champions multiple efforts to acquire, restore, and actively manage urban greenspaces. We envision a world-class, bi-state regional system of neighborhood, community and regional parks, natural areas, trails, open spaces and recreation opportunities distributed equitably throughout the region. We believe such a system is an essential ingredient of the Portland metropolitan region’s ecological health, civic vitality, quality of life, and thriving economy.

The Institute’s staff helped shape the content and scope of the 1995 and 2006 bonds. We co-founded The Intertwine Alliance in 2007 to bring multiple public and private sector partners together to drive continued investment in  “The Intertwine” – the region’s interconnected system of parks, trails and natural areas. This work continues with our active engagement and advocacy in support of the latest parks and nature bond, which will go before voters in November 2019.

Although our record of achievement is remarkable, we have more work to do. Patterns of investment in and access to parks and greenspaces across the region are inequitable. Our upcoming parks and greenspaces investments need to prioritize climate change preparation and adaptation, safeguards for imperiled ecosystems, and benefits to historically marginalized groups that concentrate in nature-deficient neighborhoods.

The addition of publicly owned natural areas from the early 1800s to late 1990s. It is no accident that land acquisition accelerated dramatically after Metro’s adoption of the Metropolitan Greenspaces Master Plan in 1992. Courtesy: Metro
Metro parks and natural areas
Metro’s graphic showing the addition of natural areas in their portfolio from 1989 to present. Metro now owns and manages more than 17,000 acres of natural areas. Courtesy: Metro