Ross Island is only open to the public through volunteer work parties.
At this time, access to the site is limited to individuals or small groups that volunteer on PP&R projects or those organized by our community partners: Audubon Society of Portland, Willamette Riverkeeper, and Urban Greenspaces Institute. When PP&R completes a habitat management plan for the site, it will also include access options. For now, the best way to see the island is by boat or from the Springwater on the Willamette and South Waterfront. Numerous paddle trips are offered by our community partners throughout the year.
The first round of invasive species removal took place in the fall of 2008 by a contracted crew. Follow-up treatments will continue over the next two years with possible plantings starting in the winter of 2010.
Ross Island occupies the middle of the Willamette River in southwest Portland. Most of it is owned by Ross Island Sand and Gravel, a company that has mined river gravel there since the 1920s. On October 31, 2007, Dr. R. B. Pamplin, Jr. donated 44.83 upland acres, not including the lagoon shoreline edge, to the City of Portland.
Ross Island is part of the Holgate Channel and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge complex. The complex makes up a significant regional fish and wildlife habitat and is one of the most scenic reaches of the lower Willamette River. It has been designated an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society of Portland because of it use by both migratory and resident birds. There is a bald eagle nest on the City’s parcel and a small Great Blue Heron rookery on the island’s northern tip, property owned by the Port of Portland.