Baltimore Woods in North Portland will soon be teeming with volunteers and workers as the Bureau of Environmental Services and SOLV get ready to dive into a restoration project that will turn six acres into a sustainable and beautiful oak savanna.

BES Environmental Specialist Mary Bushman and SOLV representative Alex Roem joined last night's Friends of Cathedral Park Neighborhood Association meeting to introduce the project, which will be coordinated with the Friends of Baltimore Woods.

These six acres are part of a longer green corridor purchased by the city with the intent of restoring it and connecting it with the Willamette Greenway and the walking and biking trail known as the 40-Mile Loop. These acres will also connect up with the npGreenway Trail system, which will run from downtown Portland through the Baltimore Woods to Kelly Point Park.

This six-acre section was chosen for restoration, says Bushman, because "the current condition of the property does not provide the full benefit for wildlife" that call the area home or use it as a resting place as they migrate, including a variety of endangered bird species.

The first steps are already underway to pull weeds and clear out some of the more invasive plants that have taken over this section, including blackberries, scotch broom, thistle, and ivy.

"We have about 30 students from De [La] Salle High School that will be coming out to work on Friday to pull weeds," says Roem. She adds that there is a tentative date of August 27th in place for a SOLV-driven volunteer day to help do the bulk of the work clearing out these weeds.

The section of Baltimore Woods to be restored.
The section of Baltimore Woods to be restored. Image: Google Maps

There's also the work that needs to be done to remove an unused parking lot that is part of these six acres. "A small part of that work is going to be volunteer-driven," says Bushman, "but the rest will have to be contracted out."

BES will be working with Depave, a volunteer project that helps takes out concrete and asphalt in urban areas, but considering the size of the lot—just under two acres—there's only so much they will be able to do. "They looked at it and said, 'This would be our only project for the whole summer,'" said Bushman.

Once the weeds and the parking lot have been removed, the final part of the site preparation will take place at the beginning of the fall, when BES plans to plant native wildflowers and grasses.

After a year, the project will continue to remove and manage the invasive plants that might remain and then start planting trees and shrubs. The Parks Department will also get involved at this point to help design the trail that will run through this part of the woods. "They'll likely need to look for a grant to help pay for the construction," says Bushman, meaning that the bureaucratic hoops they'll likely have to jump through could push the creation of this trail forward by as much as three years.