Partnership Will Protect Boy Scouts Land in Happy Valley

A beloved Boy Scouts property overlooking Happy Valley will be protected as a public natural area with new trails, picnic tables and restrooms, thanks to a partnership including Metro, the City of Happy Valley and the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District.

Metro is under contract to purchase 70 acres from the Boy Scouts of America’s Cascade Pacific Council, investing funds from the region’s voter-approved 2006 natural areas bond measure.

Under an agreement approved this month by all the parties, Metro will oversee restoration and improvements at the forested property. Happy Valley will pay for the upgrades with its remaining $380,000 of local allocation from the bond. And the parks district will manage the future Scouter Mountain Natural Area, which could open as early as summer 2012.

“This partnership will ensure that future generations connect with nature in a fast-growing part of the region,” said Metro Councilor Rod Park, who represents the eastern suburbs in District 1. “Voters were thinking of places like Scouter Mountain when they asked Metro to protect our best remaining land in the Portland metropolitan area.”

Rising more than 700 feet above the valley floor, Scouter Mountain is part of the Boring Lava Field. The future natural area is part of a larger property owned by the Boy Scouts, who will retain about 110 acres.

Scouter Mountain Natural Area will honor the Boy Scouts’ legacy on the site – not only by promoting outdoor exploration, but also by salvaging pieces of a deteriorating lodge to incorporate in the new picnic shelter. An independent study determined that it would cost more than $8 million to restore Chief Obie Lodge, which has been closed since 2004 due to fire safety issues. The Scouts will deconstruct the 22,000-square-foot building prior to the property sale, which is expected to be finalized this spring.

“Like so many others, I have very fond memories of camping and other activities on Scouter Mountain with my children and as a young Scoutmaster,” said the Scouts’ council president, Gene Grant, a former mayor of Happy Valley. “While we all were disappointed to find the cost of preserving the lodge was too high, the new trails, restrooms and picnic shelter that will replace and reuse the lodge materials will be a welcome amenity we will all put to good use. I am truly excited to help create the Scouter Mountain nature park with these new facilities.”

The Scouts plan to invest proceeds from the sale at their 17 camping properties in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. More than 15,000 youth and volunteers attend overnight or day-camping programs every summer, and another 30,000 Scouts camp independently throughout the year.

At the Scouter Mountain site surrounding the future natural area, for example, the Scouts host more than 2,000 campers every summer. Now, those campers will share part of the mountain with fellow nature-lovers.

“The City of Happy Valley is thrilled to have access to another 70 acres of natural area to enhance our city’s green spaces,” said Happy Valley Mayor Rob Wheeler. “As a result of this outstanding acquisition, our residents will have direct access to trails for recreation and education within our natural environment. This is a great asset for the city and the region.”

Happy Valley citizens voted to join the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District in 2006. The district covers 36 square miles, stretching from Happy Valley west to the Willamette River, south to the Clackamas River and north to the Multnomah County line. The new natural area on Scouter Mountain – which was identified as a long-term priority for the district – will be added to a roster of 60 parks and facilities.

“It’s a wonderful resource, which we’re happy to see preserved for people to use,” said Michelle Healy, parks district manager. “It fits well into what we’re trying to do.”

Scouter Mountain Natural Area showcases Metro’s natural areas bond measure at its best, said Metro Council President Carlotta Collette.

“Voters have allowed us to leverage this region’s passion for the outdoors,” she said. “No one party in this collaboration could have done it alone. But working together, a community group, a city, a park district and the regional government are protecting Scouter Mountain for future generations.”

Metro’s voter-approved Natural Areas Program protects land in 27 key areas across the region. To learn more, visit www.oregonmetro.gov/naturalareas.

Source: Oregon Metro News Release

Find out more on Cascade Pacific Council’s Scouter’s Mountain Update.

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