Monday, January 9, 2012

Portland's Butterfly Park

I have yet to meet one person who knew Portland had a butterfly park. And even if you knew where it was, and went there, you might reasonably ask two questions: Is this the whole park, and where are the butterflies?

Well, yes, this 1.09 acres is the whole park. But for perspective, let’s have a little history. This was a gravel parking lot and dump for the Macadam Bay Club-m-in other words, just another patch of forgotten, drive-by patch of Willamette River bank, presumed to be creepy if not dangerous.

But the city bought it 1984, and starting in 1991 volunteers planted it with wildflower seeds from the Columbia River Gorge. Now those grasses grow among native grasses under dogwoods, oaks, and cottonwoods-m-just like a natural riverbank. The area is part of the South Portland Riverbanks Project, restoring 35 acres of wooded riverbank to natural, fish-friendly environs.

And yes, this was planted with butterflies in mind; in fact, the city says it’s visited by morning cloaks and orange sulfurs, among others, as well as birds such as cedar waxwings, killdeer, orioles, and chickadees.

To find this little patch of nature, park just off Macadam at the entrance to Macadam Bay, or walk south a few minutes on the paved Willamette Greenway Trail from Willamette Park. You’ll see an interpretive sign and an unpaved path headed through some brush towards the river-m-and yes, that’s the whole park!

But it’s a nice little park, and as close to a secret as a city park can be. You’ll probably have it to yourself, to enjoy the view of the river, of Sellwood across the way, and who knows, maybe even of a butterfly or two.

Web -- 7720 SW Macadam AvenueMain Parks Number: 503-823-7529
Free. 5 a.m. to Midnight. TriMet #35 or #36 to SW Macadam and Taylors Ferry.

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