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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

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Read more about Ecological Landscapes - FAQ

The Nature Patch – bringing nature to neighborhood parks across Portland.

Rendering of the Alberta Nature Patch

What's in a nature patch?
Nature patches are spaces within existing parks that are being enhanced to add beautiful natural elements for people and wildlife. A variety of natural materials like native Pacific Northwest plants, logs, boulders and paths will be added to underused areas to encourage people to play and explore. Nesting boxes, flowering plants and other additions will improve the habitat for birds, pollinating insects and wildlife. Nature patches will bring nature into view at neighborhood parks, adding beautiful greenspaces that are home to birds, bees, and butterflies.

How are nature patch locations selected?
The locations chosen to become nature patches are underused areas of developed parks that are not programmed, are challenging to maintain, or are better suited to natural uses. Alberta Park is the first to have a nature patch, with planning now underway for Hazeltine Park and Gabriel Park. Portland Parks & Recreation will be improving parks with nature patches across the city, with a focus on neighborhoods with less access to greenspaces.

Where's the next nature patch going to be?
Ten initial park locations were selected as a 5-year pilot project: Alberta, Gabriel, Hazeltine, Lents, Cathedral, Irving, Custer, Columbia, East Holiday, and Overlook Parks are being considered as part of the pilot project. Some if these locations may change during the project as we learn how best to develop the natural spaces.

What are the goals of the program?
Nature patches are part of the larger Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Program. The program focuses on improving the natural and ecological functions of park spaces while expanding local access to nature for all Portlanders. The goals of the program include: 

  • Provide spaces for people to explore, play, and interact with nature
  • Create ecologically robust landscapes that support native pollinators within developed parks
  • Provide environmental education and stewardship opportunities
  • Increase soil and plant health, and expand the diversity of natural landscapes within parks
  • Foster community partnerships and PP&R collaboration
  • Decrease maintenance inputs over time

Read the Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Initiative behind this program.

Rendering of the Hazeltine Nature PatchHow big or small can a nature patch be?
The size of a nature patch will vary in each park, depending on the current uses and open spaces available. In general, the larger the area, the better it can function to support wildlife. In practice, nature patches will range from about an acre to smaller pockets tucked into the existing park landscape.

Will there be learning elements?
Yes! In interpretive signs, ecological art, and plant identification markers will be a part of each nature patch. 

Who will create nature patches?
Nature patches will be developed and built using teams of Portland Parks & Recreation staff, with many opportunities for community partners to take part. Volunteers of all ages and abilities will be welcome to help with planting and stewardship.

Join us!
Contact Eric Rosewall at eric.rosewall@portlandoregon.gov, if you'd like to learn more about helping out!


Pollinator Plant Resources


Nature Patches in the Press