Spring Park, in the Island Station neighborhood, leads out to Elk Rock Island – both are crucial parts of the very special habitat we have in Milwaukie Bay, where Johnson and Kellogg Creeks come into the Willamette. In the 1990s, Carolyn Tomei and others had done a lot of work on the management plan for Elk Rock Island, and there was a concept plan for a “pocket park” with play area and picnic tables near the park entrance on 19th Avenue. But those plans had been stalled for a few years when I became chair of the neighborhood association, and I took the initiative to revive them and work with the City through a multi-year process that led to the adoption of the Spring Park Master Plan and construction of the pocket park as Phase I of that Master Plan.
I also organized approximately 20 clean-up events in Spring Park over the years, including four consecutive years of SOLVE-IT Earth Day events, at each of which a dumpster of invasive plant material and a pick-up load of garbage was hauled away. Along the way, volunteers also planted several thousand new native plants in various parts of the park. I have also been a regular participant in habitat restoration efforts on Elk Rock Island, and have participated in work parties in Milwaukie Bay, North Clackamas, Kronberg and Homewood Parks, as well as along Johnson Creek.
Since 2014, Spring Park has been enhanced by realignment of the path to protect the wetland, as well as the addition of in-river woody debris to provide fish habitat. Coupled with the habitat enhancements to Elk Rock Island and the introduction of woody debris to the mouth of Johnson Creek several years back, the habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife in and around Milwaukie Bay has been improved. The river and surrounding habitat will continue to improve with the completion of Milwaukie Bay Park and the removal of the dam in Kellogg Creek in the coming years.