Enhancing Our Connection to Nature

Fanno Creek is a 15-mile tributary that begins in Portland’s southwest hills and meanders through the cities of Beaverton, Tigard and Durham, where it meets the Tualatin River. The creek and its tributaries cross private lands and public property owned by these cities, Clean Water Services (CWS), Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (THPRD) and Metro. It is an urban stream with adjacent industrial lands, roads and homes, as well as linear parks and trails. 

The Site

First planting: 2006
Size: 152 acres
Stream length: 20,202 feet
Total to date: 248,708 plants
Plant communities: Emergent Marsh, Forested Wetland, Riparian Forest, Scrub Shrub


The Challenge

Historically, Fanno Creek wound through a dense forest abundant with bears, deer, beavers and cutthroat trout. Water that flowed to the creek was naturally slowed and filtered through trees and vegetation. A meandering channel connected to the floodplain across the landscape. 

In 1847, Fanno Creek was the first land claim in Washington County. During the rapid growth that followed, the creek was channelized, forest was cleared and roads were built. Trees and shrubs were removed; in their absence, non-native vegetation invaded. The consequences for Fanno Creek were severe: higher and faster flow, increased pollutants from water running off the altered landscape, and accelerated bank erosion. To enhance the health of this once-vibrant watershed, a coordinated effort across multiple jurisdictions and private parties would be crucial.


The Transformation

Today, more than seven miles of streamside and 150 acres of greenways have been transformed into a healthy resource for people and wildlife through partnerships with THPRD; the cities of Tigard, Durham, Beaverton and Portland; Metro; and CWS. Volunteers, partners and reforestation contractors have planted native trees and shrubs by the hundreds of thousands, greatly increasing stream shade, improving air quality and enhancing wildlife habitat.

The network of natural areas along Fanno Creek boasts a wide diversity of forests and wetlands, from spreading Oregon oaks and tall mature ponderosa pines to wetlands full of sedges, rushes and Oregon ash trees.  Other enhancements include streambank stabilization; large wood features; and stream meanders to provide better fish habitat and cleaner water while reducing erosive stream flows. Fish and amphibians have returned, along with birds, including wood ducks, hooded merganser, great blue herons and white egrets. Beaver activity has further increased wildlife habitat by providing access to water to dozens of wildlife species throughout the long dry summer. 

A regional trail that runs along Fanno Creek for a large portion of its length provides connections to multiple parks, allowing people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the many natural resources of Fanno Creek. Communities have witnessed major changes as these areas were restored to help create safe, livable and walkable neighborhoods.


This Fanno Creek profile covers a series of interconnected projects. 
View project-by-project statistics

Click to explore the change in mature native plant coverage between 2007 (purple) and 2014 (orange).

Fanno Creek visitor information available from THPRD and City of Tigard.