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Upgrades will provide better trail access and connections to other city buttes.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The 150-acre Gabbert Butte Nature Park will be gaining new amenities to help the public better access the trails. Community members came together to help craft a plan for Gabbert Butte Nature Park, with a variety of input on the best ways to implement welcome entries, trailheads and trail system improvements.

The event was hosted by Metro regional government and the city of Gresham Wednesday evening, July 19, and furthered development of the master plan for Gabbert Butte. The plan identified ways to connect people with nature through hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, classes and play areas.

"We don't tend to have a lot of money and resources for parks, so anytime we can partner with Metro to fund a park is something we want to take advantage of," said Steve Fancher, Gresham's director of environmental services.

The site is co-owned by the city of Gresham and Metro, with small pockets of land retained by private entities. Nadaka Nature Park and the soon to be completed Hogan Butte Nature Park were both also completed thanks to similar partnerships.

Gabbert Butte is currently a natural area, but will become a nature park once the new amenities are included. It is one of three buttes located within city limits. The 150-acre space is covered in big leaf maple, alder and Western red cedars, and native wildflowers bloom in the spring.

"It always amazes me how close to the city I am when walking on Gabbert Butte," said Olena Turula, park planner with Metro.

Gabbert is located between Southwest Regner Road, Southwest Butler Road and Southwest Towle Avenue, and is south of Gresham Butte with several trails connecting the two peaks. There are already 1.5 miles of trails on Gabbert Butte, with trailheads accessible in neighborhoods. The top of the butte is 994 feet, which represents 500 feet of elevation gain from the base.

"We have a big opportunity here to connect the east butte trail systems," Turula said.

Many of the early comments on the plans were positive, with community members excited to have better access to hiking in their own backyard. A few raised concerns about the private owners who still had land on the butte, as it could affect where the trails run, as well as desires to change some of the existing trails, which are steep and often treacherous when slippery.

Other ideas were to have information in many languages, park rangers, plenty of parking for vehicles and bikes, water stations, restrooms at the trailheads, and signs along the trail with mileage listed.

There will be three more opportunities for community members to weigh-in, with the next meeting planned to take place in the fall. The final chance will be via online comments about the master plan.

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