What is often referred to as Tryon Creek State Park is officially Tryon Creek State Natural Area (TCSNA).

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department defines the primary purpose of a Natural Area as: “To protect outstanding or important portions of Oregon’s ecosystems for continued public education, and/or for contributing to larger ecosystem health.” Management priorities include maintaining long-term resource quality and providing resource stabilization and enhancement.

Although designated as a Natural Area, “the Park” is currently a degraded one, infested with over a dozen non-native (to the area), invasive plant species. Surrounded by developed private lands and vulnerable to seed sources from them and brought in by vehicle and foot traffic, it is at risk for further infestations. Without conservation efforts, its natural characteristics could completely disappear over the next fifty years or so. Even the trees probably would be gone, overwhelmed and brought down or shaded out by English ivy and European clematis.

The goal of conservation is to re-create and maintain a healthy, diverse forest ecosystem, composed primarily of native plants and animals. This contributes to its value for public education. The larger ecosystem that benefits has been defined by the Three Rivers Land Conservancy as the West Willamette Wildlife Corridor, which extends north from TCSNA through Portland’s Forest Park. The Conservancy and other groups are busy with conservation efforts on lands north of TCSNA, complementing our own work.

Conservation in TCSNA has proceeded rather systematically since 1995 and many of the non-native plants have been controlled on about 170 acres, while the trees have been saved (at least for a while) almost everywhere else. Maintenance on these “controlled” areas is an ongoing task (resprouts and new seedlings), however, and proceeds while we continue to expand the area controlled.

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