Introductions & Information:
Bob said if Marion County acquires the Koenig property, as parks land using public funds, the expectation is to have public accessibility. There is discussion that the property be acquired by Marion County, but managed by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, so county resources will not be used. There will not be any accessibility by the public, except from the river. Bob said there is a problem with flooding in this area and it changes the appearance of the land every year. He added that there needs to be a way to let the public know that they are allowed to access this land from the river.
Bob said the county is exploring the idea of establishing an Oaks Savannah or Oaks Woodlands on the Bunker Hill property. There is one owner in the area that is interested in assisting the County, and will speak with other neighbors. Bob had contacted USFWS which owns Ankeny Wildlife Refuge in the same area. Another option for this property is to designate it a nature preserve. Matt said Marion County owns 10 acres along the river and the State of Oregon owns the island downstream. Matt said that The Nature Conservancy may be interested in this effort, and current River Navigator with BLM owns 130+ acres in the immediate area and is interested in restoration possibilities for the area.
Bob said another issue that was wrestled with a year ago is the release of oaks, some of which are surrounded by firs and maples. He said the purpose of the park is to not take down native plants, but to remove non-natives. Another objective is to be a laboratory for restoration and if we remove everything but oaks, it would not be widely bio-diversified. He said he spoke with environmental experts and will leave the firs and maples. He said that north of the highway and west of the driveway there will be a prescribed burn of the oak savannah. Dwayne said it was said in last year’s meeting that thinning would be done. Wynn said he likes to make the most use of what is on site and allow it to go in that direction naturally. His thought is to retain these trees, because they will support wildlife habitat that oaks won’t support. Wynn said the lower shrubs are probably supporting bird habitat.
Bob said that after 1 ½ years of work, Matt’s current position will become a permanent position as opposed to the current temporary status. There will be interviews this Friday and someone will be hired and on board fairly soon. He said another position he wants to put in the budget is 0.6 FTE Botanist to assist Parks in the seeding plan.
Orville gave highlights on maintenance done to Parks this past year:
He said Parks may need to purchase a new mower in partnership with the Juvenile Department. He added that Parks also purchased a Gator and it has been used to haul many things, including several picnic tables, which were thrown into the Willamette River at Spongs Landing Park.
Dwayne asked if Bob saw a way to submit or enter Bonesteele into a program/contest, which gives out awards for being innovative. Matt said he will research this possibility and other commissioners commented that they thought Bonesteele should be recognized. Dwayne added that a national award for the department’s efforts, "parks on a shoestring" would be great recognition. Bob said we will look at all opportunities.
Staff then spoke about other speaking engagements or learning opportunities. Matt was asked to speak to the Oregon Academy of Science regarding the GIS model of the Natural Heritage Parks plan. Matt has also presented the modeling, analysis, and programmatic intent of the NHP to numerous agencies and non-profit organizations. Orville will be attending the OPRA Conference, where Bob will be a guest speaker. Bob added that he believes there is an opportunity to receive $100,000 from Oregon Lottery Grant funding.
Staff and commissioners then did a walking tour of Bonesteele, reviewing current seeding and irrigation efforts. There has been no weed killer used since the initial planting, but it may be used in the future to assist the growth of native seeds. Most of the clarkia seed is being cut now. There was discussion regarding irrigation and how much of an investment is needed. Bob said there shouldn’t be a need after 1-2 years, but pipes currently used are a good investment because they can be used again and again, and stored for future use. Susan Morre, MCPW staff botanist, discussed specific elements of the seeding plan with the commissioners.
Bob discussed work being done on Aumsville Wetlands and the design of the parking lot that will be built. There were some questions regarding the size of the lot and RV parking, which is limited by the wetlands on the site. Bob said the size and layout of the lot was discussed by staff but the RV parking areas should be better noted on the map.
The group visited the wetlands and reviewed where the future parking lot will be located. There was one obvious burn area in the front of park, along the road. Two fires caused this burn area: one of unknown origins and one from youths intentionally trying to start a fire. That case is currently under review.
The group was told that there would be a handicap accessible dock and restrooms located at the west end of the parking lot area. The group then discussed whether or not a trail should be built. Dwayne commented that the question is, do we direct travel or allow people to create their own trails. There were possibilities discussed, such as creating a trail that takes people around the ponds away from native plants or a trail that takes people away from wildlife habitat. There was concern regarding humans disturbing the western pond turtles nesting areas. The group agreed there is a need to have specific areas for nestings, which may need our intervention. Dwayne asked if there may be a future need for a camp host. Bob said he thought this may be a great idea and it would address numerous concerns of neighbors. Wynn suggested if a camp host is located at the park, they hand out educational materials about plants and wildlife. Bob thought these were great ideas.
There was discussion about thinning the trees around the fence line, but Wynn commented that he didn’t see any reason to do this. He asked about the plan for Himalayan blackberries. Orville said he planned to spray this fall and keep the area mowed. The group also discussed perimeter trails with spurs to the water for fishing, but that would divert human foot traffic from the wetlands.
Bob told Commissioners he would be holding a public meeting with neighbors before any construction work on the parking lot takes place. This meeting will be held in Aumsville, with all neighbors invited, along with representatives from several agencies, organizations, and schools. Both Dwayne and Wynn said they would attend. Bob hopes to have this meeting within the next 3 weeks. An invitation will mailed out to everyone, detailing date, time, location, and agenda. Bob plans to facilitate the meeting himself.
All attendees complimented Matt on his great work on the presentation binder, noting that it made following past, current, and future work much easier to follow.
The meeting adjourned when attendees returned to Public Works.