Metro Nature Parks are Hidden by Design

By John A. Charles, Jr.

In late June, the elected Auditor for Metro published a report showing that the agency misled voters when it promised that funds raised from the $475 million bond measure approved in 2019 would be used to make Metro’s nature parks more accessible to the public.

It’s nice to see this concern validated by the Auditor, but it’s been obvious for decades that Metro was more interested in acquiring park land than inviting people to use it. Since 1995, Metro has spent over half a billion dollars buying more than 14,000 acres, but less than 12 percent of that acreage is accessible.

Roughly 70% of Metro acquisitions have been outside Metro’s own borders. More than 80% are outside the Portland urban growth boundary.

Even for lands that are easy to reach, few Metro properties have signage, parking lots, or trails.

Over time, Metro has deliberately moved away from the idea that parks are for people. Now the philosophy is that Metro buys land just for its natural properties, and people should be discouraged from visiting.

The Metro Council should shut down any more land acquisitions by staff until access improves for parks they already own.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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