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American Trails is proud to present "Integrating Habitat and Trails" as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"

arrow For more resources on this topic see "Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind"





"Integrating Habitat and Trails"


American Trails presented this Webinar May 15, 2014 on strategies to include wildlife habitat throughout the trail planning process. Presenters are Robert Spurlock and Elaine Stewart of Metro (the Portland, OR metropolitan planning agency). Read more and learn about the presenters...


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Forest Park in Portland is one of the country's
largest urban forest reserves

"Integrating Habitat and Trails"


Attendees will learn about:


Recent decades have brought increased interest in building trails in urban areas that connect people to work and play. In the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area, this has sometimes put trail and wildlife advocates at odds.

Within the region’s urban matrix, there are a few large expanses of habitat; for example, the 5,000-acre Forest Park is in the heart of Portland. Most of the other habitat areas within the urban area are much smaller and often isolated. Riparian corridors provide continuity, but are often very narrow (e.g., 25-50 feet wide). Often, so little habitat is left that wildlife and trail advocates fight over the remnants. This changes a relationship that should be a natural partnership to one of mistrust and antagonism where nobody wins.

Presenters Robert Spurlock and Elaine Stewart are trying to reverse this trend by collaboration and deliberate inclusion of wildlife habitat throughout the trail planning process. Their work began in earnest on a master plan for the Westside Trail, which spans multiple jurisdictions. They will share the lessons they learned, including common knowledge gaps in biologists and planners and ways to bring them together for productive teamwork, from first conceptual alignments to final construction. They will also present a new tool for trail planners. Called the Top 10, it includes key principles and milestones where planner-biologist collaboration can avoid conflicts during permitting, plan review, and other key steps in trail development.


PRESENTERS FOR THE WEBINAR: “Integrating Habitat and Trails:”

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Robert Spurlock is an Associate Regional Planner with Metro. He has more than 10 years of experience in urban planning and natural area land management. His project work includes regional trail master planning, active transportation system planning, site planning, right-of-way acquisition, and public involvement. Prior to Metro, Robert worked in Managua, Nicaragua as an Afro-Caribbean music promoter, high school teacher and restorer of liberation theology-themed murals. He holds a B.A. in geography and urban studies from Macalester College, and has completed graduate coursework in urban and regional planning at Portland State University.

Elaine Stewart is a Senior Natural Resources Scientist with Metro, a regional government in Portland, Oregon. She is a project manager for natural area restoration projects, managing and overseeing feasibility analyses, project scoping, development of project funding, project implementation, and evaluation of project effectiveness. Her ecological restoration projects encompass nearly every ecosystem in the lower Willamette Valley and include rare plant and wildlife conservation. Prior to joining Metro in 1996, Elaine worked for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for many years in marine recreational and commercial fisheries management. She completed her B.S. degrees at Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and she holds a M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri.

Elaine became interested in wildlife and trail issues when she witnessed struggles between wildlife advocates and trail proponents, often fighting over small strands of natural habitat in urban areas. She joined Robert’s team on the Westside Trail project, where the two collaborated to find a better way to address habitat issues and opportunities in urban trail planning. They are now reaching out to share their lessons learned and gain from the experience of others.


logo for Metro

Metro's primary mission is land use planning and policy making to preserve and enhance the quality of life and the environment for 25 cities and three counties. Metro manages regional parks and natural areas and is responsible for planning for fish and wildlife habitat protection. It also owns and operates the Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Zoo, Portland Center for the Performing Arts.





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