A Community Treasure
Designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society, Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve (JBWP) is a complex mosaic of wetlands, wet prairie, riparian forest and oak woodland located along the Tualatin River on the southwest edge of Hillsboro. JBWP is bordered by agriculture and neighborhoods, and serves as an important wildlife refuge, including resident and migratory birds, deer, river otter, beavers and amphibians.
Open to the public, JBWP is a great place for hiking, bird watching and viewing native plants and wildlife across more than 600 acres. The Preserve also houses a modern-day Nature Center that accommodates staff, students and the public, who can learn about JBWP’s natural and cultural history through environmental education classes and interpretive displays.
First planting: 2006
Size: 204 acres
Stream length: 1,784 feet
Total to date: 65,781 plants
Plant communities: Emergent Marsh, Forested Wetland, Riparian Forest, Scrub Shrub, Upland Forest, Wet Prairie
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve has seen a variety of uses since Hyer Jackson obtained it in the mid-1800s through the Oregon Donation Land Law. In the mid-1900s, the floodplain was used as a sewer farm, which involved ditching and draining the wetlands and growing crops to treat wastewater and dispose of cannery waste. At one point, the farm employed more than 200 people to grow, harvest and process crops. When water treatment techniques changed and intensive farming ceased in the early 1970s, the area was allowed to become pastureland. A plethora of non-native plants and animals subsequently took over the site. In the 1980s, it became clear that the site had tremendous value for storing floodwater and providing much needed habitat for native plants and wildlife.
In the 1980s, rallying around a common goal to restore the area to its former beauty and productivity, local people and organizations forged important partnerships. The Friends of Jackson Bottom, a nonprofit organization, conducted numerous enhancement projects; over time, the Friends evolved into the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve Board. This board rallied the community and led a capital campaign to build the Wetlands Education Center, which opened to the public in 2003.
The Preserve is co-owned by the City of Hillsboro and Clean Water Services. Restoration coordination, public access and educational programs are managed under the City of Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department.
The City of Hillsboro and its partners continue to transform the Preserve into an important wildlife sanctuary with high-quality wetland, riparian and upland forest plant habitat that is used by numerous wildlife species.
In 2010, the City of Hillsboro partnered with Clean Water Services, the Port of Portland and Oregon Department of Transportation on wetland mitigation at Bobcat Marsh, on the west end of the preserve. The City has also partnered with Ducks Unlimited to enhance more than 120 acres of wetland habitat in the center of the Preserve. The City also received Nature in Neighborhoods grants from Metro in 2009, 2011 and 2015 to restore hundreds of acres of degraded habitat to healthy wetland ecosystems. In 2017, the City of Hillsboro, Clean Water Services and Ducks Unlimited are partnering to restore an additional 270 acres of degraded wetland habitat.
Over the last 10 years, the site has been extensively planted with more than 200,000 native trees and shrubs. These enhancement efforts will help improve water quality, floodplain connectivity, and aquatic and terrestrial habitat. Additional benefits include increased environmental educational and recreational programs, and better access to view birds and wildlife. Over the same time period, education programs run by the City of Hillsboro have grown to serve tens of thousands of schoolchildren with hands-on experiences to learn about water management, wildlife habitat and wetland enhancement, as well as countless other adult programs for natural history, bird watching and local ecology.
This Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve profile covers a series of interconnected projects. View project-by-project statistics.