Striking a Successful Balance

Following Rock Creek and its namesake trail as they meander through mature floodplain forests and diverse wetlands, the Rock Creek Trail project stitches together almost one hundred acres along the stream corridor in Hillsboro. The site, comprised of multiple parcels, stretches south from Bethany Lake Park, travels under the Sunset Highway, and connects to more intact natural areas south of Amberwood Drive. The project demonstrates that the benefits of habitat restoration can be as beneficial to the community as they are for the riparian ecosystem. 

The Site

First planting: 2006
Size: 60 acres
Stream length:  7,463 feet
Total to date:  58,227 plants
Plant communities: Forested Wetland, Riparian Forest, Water Quality Facility


The Challenge

Rock Creek is a main tributary of the Tualatin River, which has its headwaters in rural agricultural lands. Intact forests remained on the project site, but many areas were still choked by invasive weeds. The trail is subdivided into multiple tax lots with a variety of property owners, requiring significant communication and coordination to get the project off the ground.


The Transformation


Extensive restoration efforts have reinvigorated riparian habitat along the Rock Creek Trail by enhancing intact forests and restoring areas impacted by invasive plants. Dense thickets of weeds have been replaced by thriving groves of native trees and shrubs such as red alder, willow, swamp rose, and spirea. These fast-growing clusters of native plants create shade, improve pollination and provide diverse wildlife habitat. Already, mature vegetation provides habitat for an array of native species on many areas, while active restoration continues on others.

These efforts meet multiple objectives for both humans and nature: enhancing wetlands and water quality, improving habitat, creating ecosystem credits, and improving property values. Indeed, this site serves as an excellent example of successfully balancing the needs of multi-use trail and habitat corridors. Any day of the week, it is common to see people walking along the Rock Creek Trail to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Thanks to these restoration efforts, they might also catch a glimpse of a reclusive black-tailed deer, a pensive great blue heron or a family of wood ducks that call these woods and wetlands home. 

This Rock Creek Trail 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). 

Rock Creek Trail: In Motion