Parks and Recreation

Sandy River

Sandy River parks are a major recreational attraction (approximately 1 million visitors annually). The river is designated as a State Scenic Waterway and a Federal Wild and Scenic River between Dodge Park and Dabney State Park. The river is an outstanding recreational facility for anadromous fish, due to its outfall into the Columbia below that river's dam system, and the relative lack of development in its watershed. The river is also large enough to allow some non-motorized boating or floating. The parks along the river provide the opportunity for nature study and day use. Several private camps are located adjacent to the river.

A majority of land along the east bank of the Sandy River upstream from Dabney State Park to the Multnomah/Clackamas County Line is in public or Nature Conservancy ownership. These lands include Dabney State Park, Oxbow County Park, federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management in the vicinity of Indian John Island, and two parcels owned by the Nature Conservancy upstream and downstream from the federal lands. Metro Parks and Greenspaces, which administers Oxbow County Park, is purchasing private land on the East Side of the Sandy River, for inclusion in Oxbow Park. Dabney and Oxbow Parks contain public areas for picnics and other land-based recreation along with public boat launch areas (a third park/boat launch is in Clackamas County at Dodge Park). The east bank of the Sandy also has a private facility, the Hellenic Youth Camp, located between Dabney and Oxbow Parks. Camp Collins, a YMCA facility, is located on the west side of the Sandy River adjacent to Oxbow Park.

The goal of the Sandy Wild and Scenic River and State Scenic Waterway Management Plan (prepared by the Federal Bureau of Land Management in 1993) is to allow recreational uses of the Sandy consistent with maintaining its existing natural and scenic qualities. The management guidelines to implement this goal include: 1) limit recreational opportunities to existing use areas, 2) determine an overall "carrying capacity" for recreational use, and 3) develop limitation and use allocation measures if this "carrying capacity" is reached.

Among the management actions proposed are: 1) improve existing parking/trailhead areas near the mouth of Gordon Creek, 2) close or rehabilitate dispersed camping areas and hiking trails which damage the natural environment, 3) develop a visitor use survey to measure satisfaction and identify problem areas, 4) close public lands to off-road vehicle use, 5) increase ranger patrols and rule enforcement, 6) provide additional signs and information booths, 7) sponsor an annual river clean-up event, 8) continue to restrict motorized boat use, and 9) post informational signs marking public vs. private lands in areas with trespass problems or where requested by a private landowner.

Metro Parks and Greenspaces has begun preparation of a master plan for Oxbow Park, which will address issues of park expansion and uses within the park.

Mt. Hood National Forest

The Mt. Hood National Forest covers the eastern portion of the East of Sandy River rural area. The Land and Resource Management Plan prepared in 1990 identifies the numerous recreational opportunities within the National Forest boundaries. Within Multnomah County these opportunities are almost entirely within the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. On lands outside of the National Scenic Area, only limited recreation on hiking trails is currently allowed or foreseen in the future. Much of the area along the western edge of the National Forest, adjacent to private lands which lie on tributaries of the Sandy River, is closed to recreational activities because it is part of the Bull Run watershed (municipal drinking water supply for Portland). Staff from the national forest have identified unauthorized use of these lands, and associated nuisances such as target shooting and trash dumping, as a significant issue.


41. Encourage Metro and Multnomah County to work together to ensure that the area outside of the urban growth boundary is represented on parks and open space issues.
STRATEGY: Multnomah County shall request Metro appoint residents from East of the Sandy River to Metro's parks and greenspaces citizens' advisory boards.
43. Maintain and enhance the recreational value of the Sandy River and Columbia River and adjacent areas in concert with the Columbia River Gorge Commission, Metro, and other agencies.
Multnomah County shall implement this policy through the existing National Scenic Area and Significant Environmental Concern provisions within the Multnomah County zoning ordinance, and will participate in other agency plans such a future National Scenic Area Management Plan update and Metro's Oxbow Park Master Plan.
45. Provide additional management of Oxbow Park facilities east of the Sandy River, addressing the issues of littering, dumping, parking, road signage, restrooms, and delineation between public and private property.
Multnomah County shall forward this policy to Metro for their consideration at part of the Oxbow Park Master Plan.
47. Support and promote linkages within a regional trail system for use by pedestrians, equestrians, and bicyclists.
Multnomah County shall forward this policy to Metro for their consideration, and shall also encourage formation of a private trails system, separate from public roadways, for the use of equestrians (see Transportation policies & strategies).