Master Naturalists at Work in Nob Hill Nature Park (St Helens, OR)

Note from Brandy Saffell, OMN Program Coordinator: Caroline Skinner is a Master Naturalist and organizer with Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park. She passed on the press release below about recent improvements to this special spot, which contains some of our rare fragments of native oak woodland and wildflower habitat. There is also information at the end about how to get involved with maintaining the natural area. If you find yourself up in Columbia County, either looking for wildflowers, recreating on the channel, or heading up to Astoria, consider stopping at Nob Hill to stretch your legs and explore what it has to offer. 

St. Helens Completes Nob Hill Nature Park Improvements

Crystal Farnsworth, City of St Helens

St. Helens, Ore. – The City of St. Helens recently completed several improvements to Nob Hill Nature Park, including a staircase with signage, an information kiosk, and improved parking. The staircase and kiosk were funded in part through a grant from the Oregon Public Health Institute’s Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Cities Campaign. 

Nob Hill Nature Park is a 6.6 acre oak woodland refuge perched on a basalt bluff on the St. Helens riverfront. The park has views that overlook the convergence of the Columbia River and Multnomah Channel and the northern end of Sauvie Island. It is filled with native white oak trees, as well as shrubs, wildflowers and lilies. Many residents use the one-third mile nature walking trail to birdwatch and study nature. Nob Hill Nature Park is also adjacent to the former location of the Boise Veneer site, a 22-acre property that is a key piece of the overall St. Helens Waterfront Redevelopment Project.

The new Nob Hill Nature Park staircase connects the interim half-mile gravel walking trail on the Veneer site to the Nob Hill Nature Park trail above the bluff. It also formalizes the entrance to the park with signage. By enhancing safe access between the waterfront and Nob Hill Nature Park, it is anticipated that long-term usage of both trails will increase. This enhancement encourages physical activity and improves connectivity for residents in an area with stunning views of the Columbia River, Sauvie Island, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. Completing the staircase also advances the recently adopted St. Helens Waterfront Framework Plan (2016) which identified this access improvement as a near-term project.

An information kiosk was also installed at Nob Hill Nature Park’s main entrance on Plymouth Street across from the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, 451 Plymouth Street. The kiosk includes information about the park’s habitat, native plants, non-native plants, restoration work, and upcoming projects. The wooden sign affixed to the kiosk was created and donated by Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park.

The staircase and kiosk were installed by the City of St. Helens’ Public Works staff and funded in part with a $5,000 grant from the HEAL Cities Campaign. The HEAL Cities Campaign, active in Oregon since 2012, is a partnership between the Oregon Public Health Institute, the League of Oregon Cities and Kaiser Permanente to help civic leaders create healthy communities. The City of St. Helens joined the HEAL Cities Campaign in June 2014. There are currently 37 HEAL cities in Oregon. Additional information about the program is available on the HEAL Cities Campaign website.

St. Helens Public Works staff also improved and formalized the small parking area and trail entrance used by visitors to Nob Hill Nature Park from the end of South 4th Street. The South 4th Street entrance is one of four entrances to Nob Hill Nature Park; the other three are located at the end of South 3rd Street, off of Plymouth Street, and at the newly installed staircase on the City’s waterfront redevelopment site.

How to get involved

The Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park have been doing restoration work in the park since 2004. In conjunction with Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, they hold work parties twice yearly to remove invasive plants, improve trails and reintroduce native species.

The next work party is scheduled for Saturday, November 4 from 1 to 4 p.m. This work party takes place rain or shine. Meet at 1 p.m. at the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant at 451 Plymouth Street. Please bring your own water and snack items. Wear a long-sleeve top, long pants and work boots to avoid poison oak contact. Dress in layers, including rain gear if needed. The work party is suggested for ages 10 and up.

Pre-registration is requested by Friday, November 3 by calling Scappoose Bay Watershed Council at 503-397-7904 or emailing pat@scappoosebay-wc.org. For day-of information only, call 503-349-8586.

For further information regarding Nob Hill Nature Park improvements, please contact St. Helens Associate Planner Jenny Dimsho at 503-366-8207 or jdimsho@ci.st-helens.or.us.