A Versatile Site Connecting Community to Refuge
The City of Sherwood’s Woodhaven Park is a five-acre site in southeastern Washington County with open lawn, a playground, stream-side forest along Cedar Creek and a water quality facility that cleans stormwater from the adjacent neighborhood.
Woodhaven Park is an essential piece of the continuous system of stream buffers along Cedar Creek, a tributary to Chicken Creek and the Tualatin River. This versatile site is a beloved neighborhood park, a locally significant natural area, and a provider of regional wildlife connectivity.
Downstream from Cedar Creek is the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, one of only a handful of urban national wildlife refuges in the United States. With its richness and diversity of habitats, the Refuge supports some of the most abundant and varied wildlife in the watershed. Woodhaven Park thus provides stepping stone wildlife habitat and clean water, while also enhancing stream health—key benefits for the Refuge and surrounding community.
First planting: 2013
Size: 5 acres
Stream length: 707 feet
Total to date: 8,877 plants
Plant communities: Riparian Forest
Invasive shrubs, grass and weedy trees presented a big obstacle for effectively re-establishing native vegetation at Woodhaven Park. Ten years ago, Friends of Trees and volunteers planted a significant number of native trees on the site. However, those trees faced a lot of competition getting established. Another local nonprofit, Raindrops to Refuge, began working on the site several years ago to plant shrubs and remove invasives in an adjacent area on site. But the stream corridor was so thickly overgrown with invasive species— hawthorn trees, reed canary grass and blackberries—that a casual pedestrian wouldn’t even notice that they were passing alongside an urban creek.
Tackling habitat issues at urban sites like Woodhaven Park requires a collaborative approach and strong partnerships. Thus, the City of Sherwood, neighbors, Friends of Trees, Raindrops to Refuge, Tualatin Rivekeepers and Clean Water Services came together to share resources and knowledge and develop a unified approach to site management.
Recent efforts include developing larger, more logical project boundaries and uniting the original Friends of Trees planting with the more recent Raindrops to Refuge efforts. In an expanded effort in the city-owned corridor, Tualatin Riverkeepers is working with adjacent homeowners to convert dense monocultures of invasive blackberry to native plantings. Professional contractors were hired to complete site preparation activities. With contractors removing all of the large non-native components and preparing the five-acre site, a volunteer community group could focus on its expertise: The safe and efficient planting of more than 3,000 trees and shrubs.
Friends of Trees and Tualatin Riverkeepers continue to focus on planting and inter-planting of Woodhaven Park. Clean Water Services has expanded invasive plant removal and site preparation activities along the corridor to create future volunteer planting areas. CWS also monitors the site with the goal of providing shade on the creek and habitat for area wildlife.
Today, native plants, trees and shrubs support a diversity of birds and wildlife; water is cleaner; the creek corridor can be seen and pleasantly experienced by the entire community; and what was once an under-appreciated natural area is now a community asset with functioning habitat for wildlife.
22 native plant species
* Plant cover change monitoring began in 2014. Figures will be published as they become available.