Willamalane Asks Community for Input on Natural Area
Willamalane Park and Recreation District is holding a public meeting later this month to gauge opinion on the use of hundreds of acres of natural area set aside for public use in the Thurston Hills area of Springfield.
The meeting, set for 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at Willamalane Center for Sports and Recreation, will help the agency determine parameters for land use in a 10-year management plan for the 700-acre property. The plan will identify approaches to community education, timber management and restoration, as well as meet the requirements of the Bonneville Power Administration, which has two conservation easements on nearly 316 acres within the natural area.
“Willamalane’s vision for the ridgeline property is not only to preserve views, wildlife habitat and sensitive natural areas, but to provide excellent walking, hiking and mountain-biking opportunities,” said Willamalane Superintendent Bob Keefer.
Willamalane purchased the Thurston Hills Natural Area in 2014. Funding came in part from a Willamalane bond measure passed in 2012, state and federal grants, and donations of property value from private sellers.
In addition to hosting a public meeting, Willamalane has created an online survey to address management of the natural area and, specifically, the nearly 80-acre community forest, which was designated in fall 2014 by the U.S. Forest Service.
The survey is intended for people who live in Springfield and are interested in the recreation opportunities the community forest area might provide. People taking the survey are asked to rank in order of priority a list of proposed activities that would occur outside the conservation easements, including bird-watching, disc golf, hiking trails and public education.