Wilcox Estates Home Owners Association

Partnering with Forest Park Conservancy to widen the trail and build split-rail fencing, photo courtesy of WEHOA

Tucked into Portland’s West Hills in the Bridlemile neighborhood, the Wilcox Estates Home Owners Association (WEHOA) accomplished a remarkable transformation of their creek and forest.

The WEHOA is situated in an important drainage, with three tributaries of Fanno Creek and over time the hillsides and parts of the common greenspaces had become overgrown with invasive vines, shrubs, forbs and trees.

Members of the WEHOA formed a Forest and Stream Restoration Committee and came to us in 2011 about removing the invasive plants, and improving the walking trails along the creek.

Mary Logalbo, West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District’s Urban Conservationist, developed a conservation plan which initially included 4.1 acres of common creek property owned by the WEHOA. A stellar neighbor-led door-to-door outreach effort, supported by additional planning and funding from WMSWCD and free native plants from Clean Water Services (CWS), inspired participation from bordering landowners within the HOA, as well as independent adjoining neighbors, to grow the project to 7.2 acres, nearly double the original scope.

Restoration planning began September 2012 and the District contributed a $10,000 cost-share contribution for contractor services to remove the invasive species and plant native shrubs, trees and forbs. Due to the difficult brush and slope conditions, professional crews took on the bulk of the work of cutting, clearing and planting the ravine areas adjoining the streams. With technical support, tools, and plants provided by CWS, more than 50 volunteers augmented the contractors’ work with over 1000 hours of clearing ivy and blackberry from established native shrubs and “ringing trees” of ivy – cutting the ivy vines around the tree trunks to effectively kill the vines – and planting native plants.

This restoration project is still ongoing and expanding, with an informed and skilled team of neighbors at WEHOA now leading the charge, working directly with CWS and professional contractors to conduct annual native plantings and follow-up weed control treatments. The District continues to provide technical support and provide maintenance recommendations as needed.

As of 2019, the WEHOA and neighboring properties have installed 13,600 native plants, with more to come, all donated by CWS. These plantings support wildlife, absorb and slow storm water runoff, and provide natural filtration which improves water quality in Fanno Creek and ultimately the Tualatin River.

In recognition of the impressive work of the Wilcox Estates HOA, we awarded them our “2013 Urban Cooperator of the Year” award noting that the committee “did an amazing job of thorough door-to-door outreach with their neighbors to extend the boundaries of this project to further increase the health of their natural area and the broader watershed.” The restoration effort has inspired many neighbors to begin work in their own backyards. Project leaders and volunteers are energized by the restoration’s success and are working to maintain the new plantings and further extend native habitat.

In March of 2015, the Bridlemile Neighborhood Association nominated the Wilcox Estates Home Owners Association Forest and Stream Restoration project for the 2015 Bill Naito Community Trees Award. This restoration project was by far the largest in the Bridlemile Neighborhood at that time, and it set a great example for collaboration among property owners, community volunteers, and partner organizations.

Visit our YouTube channel (West Multnomah SWCD) to see what the site looks like and to learn more about this project in our video featuring Urban Conservationist, Mary Logalbo.