The year 2014 heralds a new chapter in the evolving story of 3-Creeks, the 89 acres of old-growth native white oaks perched above an oasis of lush savanna and flowing waters, located in Northwest Clackamas County.

But 3-Creeks, as a whole, is so much more, and the people of Clackamas County recognize this truth.

3-Creeks is home to wildlife, including birds, deer and beaver; to name a few. And with good fortune, salmon will return someday. 3-Creeks is a wide-open space, a mix of dirt trails, deep creeks and big trees. For many, it is a welcome departure from pavement, buildings and vehicles.

The location of 3-Creeks — just steps from Clackamas Town Center, the Clackamas Community College Harmony Campus and the Aquatic Center —make it an ideal natural place for Clackamas County residents to access and enjoy. For these reasons and many more, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners removed the Sunnybrook West Extension, a county road project meant for 3-Creeks, from the Clackamas County Transportation System Plan.

David slayed Goliath once again.

But we can’t walk away now that we’ve won. We need to move forward and address the county’s concerns about traffic congestion and the desire for expansion of the CCC Harmony Campus. Our obligation as the planet’s steward demands we return access to 3-Creeks for salmon.

Two major obstacles remain before these visions can be fulfilled. The toy store site at Southeast 82nd Avenue and Sunnyside Boulevard is underutilized and needs to move. This enormous lot has the potential to be a gateway for college expansion and a redesigned traffic interchange.

We would like to see the city of Milwaukie, the county and the college work with the nearby neighborhoods to come up with a vision for the Harmony Road area that works for all.

The second obstacle is miles downstream from 3-Creeks. The antiquated Kellogg Dam at the mouth of Kellogg Creek on the Willamette River in downtown Milwaukie has blocked access and flow to and from the Kellogg/Mt. Scott watershed, which includes 3-Creeks for over 160 years.

The dam had completely decimated the salmon population in the watershed. It has destroyed water quality in Kellogg Creek. It negates all the upstream efforts put forth by governments, organizations and volunteers to restore the watershed.

The city of Milwaukie, at the insistence of residents, has signed an agreement to study the feasibility of dam removal. This positive step gives hope that one day the salmon will return.

Until then, please take a moment to appreciate and participate in the future of your local watershed. We believe future generations will be thankful for the work.

Greg Baartz-Bowman and Matt Menely are Bike Milwaukie co-founders.

Contract Publishing

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