Located near the edge of the urban growth boundary at the northern end of the Willamette Valley’s rich wine country, Sherwood is a small town with a deep commitment to nature. Although Sherwood has experienced rapid growth in both population and building structures during the past twenty years, the community’s preservation and enhancement of its natural surroundings are evident in the tree lined streets and attention to wildlife safety and habitat restoration. The commitment is perhaps most evident in the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, a large swath of restored wetland that enables the human residents of Sherwood to share their town with nearly 275 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians and a wide variety of insects, fish and plants.

During the past ten years, the population of Sherwood has increased by nearly 45 percent from just over 11,000 in 2000 to more than 17,000 today. The growth occurs in residential subdivisions, newly updated and expanded civic buildings, and maturing commercial and manufacturing districts. Although Sherwood was incorporated nearly 120 years ago, 76 % of the town’s buildings have been built since 1970, with 52% built between 1995 and 1998. Sherwood’s tree canopy is also growing. In 2004, the Arbor Day Foundation designated it as a Tree City USA. The program, which is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and Community Forestry Program, supports communities that are committed to maintaining and expanding healthy urban forests.

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Balancing new residents and the local wildlife is not always easy. Signs warning drivers to watch for deer line the roads not only in the hills surrounding the city but also in the dense residential neighborhoods in the valley. While deer may feel threatened, wildcats are being sent to Sherwood to find safety. Wildcat Haven is one of the few sanctuaries in the country focused exclusively on small, lesser known wildcats. Located on eight acres, Wildcat Haven is dedicated to rescuing and nurturing animals while educating the public about the different varieties of wildcats and their habitat needs.

Wildlife and people have to share space in much of the town, but in the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge it is clear that wildlife takes precedence. First proposed by a local citizen in 1990, the Refuge was officially designated in 1992. Over the next eleven years, land was bought and donated, native habitat was restored, and, by 2003, the Refuge had grown to 1,268 acres. A Wildlife Center opened in 2008, providing visitors with enhanced educational and recreational opportunities. Although the Wildlife Refuge covers less than one percent of the Tualatin River’s Watershed, it is home to abundant and varied local wildlife.

Sherwood residents may soon have even greater access to natural areas. Currently in the early planning stages, the Tonquin Trail will start at the Tualatin River Natural Wildlife Refuge leading pedestrians and cyclists through Sherwood along the banks of Cedar Creek to the Grahams Oak Nature area along the Willamette River in Wilsonville. Commuters will also be able to use the trail to access the Westside Express Service (WES) stations in Wilsonville and Tualatin via additional trail spurs.


by Scott Burns
Professor of Geology, Portland State University

Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that comes out of the ground from the breakdown of uranium. It is naturally occurring in the soil in very small quantities. Concentrations in the soil vary based on different geological origins of the soil, so radon rates going into houses depend upon where the house is sited. The gas leaks through the foundations of the homes and collects in houses. EPA tells us that radon gas is the number two cause of lung cancer in humans behind smoking and that 20% of lung cancer cases are attributable to radon. It is a health hazard. Meanwhile homes and buildings have become more tightly sealed with the advent of energy conservation. This can lead to increased levels of radon in the living space.

Power companies did extensive testing of homes in the 1980’s to determine levels of radon. My students and I analyzed the Portland data in 1994 from over 1100 homes and then again updated their research in 2004 with information from another 600 homes. The map below shows the updated areas where radon emanation is high (dark red), medium (medium red) and low (tan) in the Portland area. Most of the Portland area rates low in radon potential because the common bedrock is basalt which is low in uranium. The high areas are where houses are on Missoula Flood sediments. They had their ultimate origins from granite bedrock that is traditionally high in uranium, and in Portland these soils are very permeable allowing the radon gases to flow easily into basements. radon map

Greetings from the Editor, Summer 2010

As I noted in the winter edition of Metroscape®, this is the last printed version of the magazine you will see. Our next issue and succeeding ones will be online. As Ben Lundin’s interview with Peter Bhatia, Executive Editor of The Oregonian, which begins on p. 20 makes clear, these are parlous times for those who put information on paper and then peddle it to the public. Even a free public service journal like Metroscape® has to try to stay ahead of the curve of public attention in presenting its wares to information seekers. And so it is with a sense of regret on one hand, and a mounting feeling of excitement on the other, that we look to the electronic Metroscape® coming out in December.

In this new format, we promise the same compelling and informative articles about our region that you’ve always anticipated when you received the magazine in the mail—and counted on to really understand what’s going on. We’ll still have page-turning articles, although the turning will be by mouse rather than hand. We’ll still have vivid maps and graphics. In short, it’ll be the same magazine you’ve read, just from the ether, rather than the postal service.

How will you know when the new issue is out? We’ll notify you in advance. We have many of our readers’ email addresses, but not all, and so we’re hoping that if we don’t have yours, you’ll send it in. Or, if you have a new email address, we’re anxious for you to update us. With your correct address, we’ll notify you when new issues are posted, so you can get the new edition in a timely fashion. Here’s how to let us know:

Simply go to and fill in the correct information.

“Make no small plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood,” said Daniel Burnham, the late nineteenth century American architect and planner. Metroscape® has been a nineteen-year adventure in big plans. You may have noticed, we’ve morphed from a big-print, big-pictures book into a more text- and information-driven product. We’ve gone from a gray-scale publication to four-color, and we’ve tried a number of new twists—like our 3-D atlas of a few years ago. So despite the fact that each new idea engendered serious, sometimes agonizing, debate, change is not new to us and each step away from our previous identity has been, we think, of a forward nature. This one is no different. It’ll just take some help from you to make it work.

Craig Wollner
Editor in Chief