Parks Naturalists discover the best kept secrets of our natural areas

We are excited to announce our revitalized Parks Naturalist program, a partnership program we help lead with Portland Parks and Recreation! Forty volunteers gathered in January for an orientation on the program, where they learned how to collect data on park usage by people and the many plant, animal, and fungal species we share these unique places with. We’ve also been collecting important data on other parks usage (like camping, vandalism, or going off-trail) that will help us manage our sensitive natural areas better. Our Parks Naturalists hit the ground running and have been recording tons of data that isn’t being recorded anywhere else!

Here are some fun HUMAN USES of the Natural Areas that our Parks Naturalists have recorded so far:


Dog walking




Playing on the playground

Taking photos


Detecting metal

Snowball fights

Horseback riding

Tai Chi


Another element of this program is that the Parks Naturalists learn to use a program called iNaturalist, which is an online forum for people to record the life they see outside, and then it’s identified (either you can do it yourself, or other more experienced folks can comment on pictures of the species you post). Now we have a preliminary list of what they are seeing! So far they’ve made 44 observations, with 37 distinct species.


Here are ANIMALS that are using the Natural Areas, too!



Bewicks wrens

Song sparrows




Mallard duck

Hawk (red-tailed)

Hooded mergansers




Buds and Leaves (yes, spring is coming!)

Beaver dam (okay, not a plant, but made from them!)

Beaver chewed sticks

Indian plum

Red flowering currant





Mule deer

Banana slug

We are proud of our Parks Naturalists and look forward to all of the new life that emerges as the season changes from winter to spring! Check out all their journal entries HERE. Want to get involved? Contact


This program is made possible by the Mintkeski Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, and our partners at Portland Parks and Recreation.

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