Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is located just south of downtown Portland on the east side of the Willamette River and across from Ross Island. It was named the city’s first wildlife refuge in 1988, and in 2004 it was designated the city’s first migratory bird park.
During the 1970s the area’s fate was in jeopardy. The marshland had long been separated from the Willamette by the raised rail bed that is now the Springwater Corridor; the southern portion had been a sanitary landfill; the northern portion had become a waste area for debris left from the construction of I-405; and developers contemplated using the entire area to expand the Oaks Amusement Park. After years of debate, and with a little luck, a reclamation effort spearheaded by the Audubon Society of Portland, the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement Society, and The Nature Conservancy finally convinced the city that it was a natural area worth saving.
Today, the Oaks Bottom Trail system allows you to explore this marvelously preserved wetland. It is comprised of both intertwining gravel and paved paths, and lookout platforms enable visitors enjoy the sights and sounds of the local fauna. As of 2010, 185 bird species have been documented at the refuge, including osprey, egrets, great blue herons, and numerous waterfowl.