Michael Barton helps his kids explore the Oregon outdoors – he brings his son, Patrick, and newest addition to the family, Afton, into the outdoors each week.
They especially enjoy hiking at “Tryon Creek State Natural Area” in Lake Oswego where there’s always something new to see. Michael writes about nature in his daily blog, "Exploring Portland's Natural Areas," and he always carries a camera to capture the moments too.
“It’s for the memories! Being able to go back and look at the pictures again!”
In fact, he has captured so many memories at the parkland that Michael decided to enter the recent and first-ever state park video contest.
Seven year old son, Patrick, starred in the minute long video, "Why I Love Tryon Creek State Park" that shows why the family loves Tryon Creek.
“We’re not videographers,” noted Barton. “We don’t have a video camera so a photo slide show seemed appropriate. We picked pictures representative of all our visits and put them together. Added music and that was it”
It was good enough to win too and the family couldn’t be more proud.
“The park is a public place and it is part of what we value about Portland’s natural areas – so why not make use of it and enjoy it.”
Tryon Creek Park Ranger, John Mullen, said that there is much to enjoy about Tryon Creek’s 650 wooded acres – especially its history:
“First off,” noted Mullen, “there has never been a state park in a city.”
That’s right! Tryon Creek SP is Oregon’s first urban state park – established more than forty years ago thanks to local neighbors who didn’t want to see apartments, houses or condos lining Tryon Creek Canyon.
“That really increased the interest in protecting the area,” said Mullen. “Everyone realized at the time that it was a unique piece of property within the city limits.”
People like Lucille Beck and Jean Sidal worked tirelessly for over a year to create the first “Friends” group in state park history and to save the Tryon Creek canyon from development.
“It was hard work but it was easy to see what was at stake,” said Lu Beck. “All of the neighbors understood why it was worth saving and so valuable. It’s a quiet place and as the city grew around it, it was even more valuable. We always told people there will be trails – trails and trees!”
Beck and Sidal marshaled hundreds of volunteers and connected with 1400 families who donated $27,000 for the very first Tryon Creek land purchase in 1970.
In the weeks that followed that initial purchase, the enthusiasm for a designated park grew in the larger community too.
The two volunteers convinced Glenn Jackson, a state civic leader and head of the Oregon Dept of Transportation, that the property was important and the state should buy more land.
“He had the vision and the power to do something – and he did,” added Beck. “Mr Jackson was the man for it.
Jackson provided state support and the first significant land purchase – more than 200 acres – soon followed.
“The fact that the park was created – really – by the community is unusual, and it makes everybody an owner of the park.”
The Tryon Creek Nature Center followed in 1975. It was built and staffed by a growing army of “Friends” and it continues to serve as the centerpiece for the park’s many classes that teach much about the values of the outdoor environment.
Today, the many friends of Tryon Creek agree that the history of the park is as deep and rich as the canyon’s environment. It was a citizen-based management strategy that grew alongside the state park system.
State Park’s Manager, John Mullen, said today there are more than eight miles of trails that provide a little something for each visitor.
“It is a refuge for plants and animals for sure - but it’s also a refuge from that ‘busy-ness’ of city life. That’s really the mission here and a great connection with the outdoors.”
Michael Barton said he admires the folks who made the effort to protect Tryon Creek so many decades ago and he makes sure that his kids learn the park’s story.
He said it will be a place their entire family will love and cherish: “I like to think that the first “Friends of Tryon Creek;” didn’t do it for themselves back then. They did for people like us – for my children and future residents of the area who would enjoy it. That’s important.”