New Nature Patch at Lillis-Albina Park

Colorful pollinators with watershed health messages flank the fence along N Flint Avenue showcasing the new nature patch in Lillis-Albina Park.

New neighbors are sprouting up in the Eliot neighborhood, although not of the human variety. These neighborhood additions are green. They attract butterflies, bees, and birds, and help keep our rivers clean.

Take a visit to Lillis-Albina Park and you will notice a new nature patch taking root. In the spring months, aided by the efforts of City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) with Parks & Recreation staff, fifth graders rolled-up their sleeves and planted native plants on the park’s eastern edge. Parks’ Urban Forestry team complemented the efforts by pruning the trees lining N Flint to allow more light into the nature patch. Second graders supported the effort by painting wood pollinator cut-outs of butterflies, bees, and birds. These artful pieces now line the N Flint Avenue fence and include messages about the benefits that these species provide to Portlanders.

The home of the new nature patch, Lillis-Albina Park, is nearly four acres and located north of reopened Harriet Tubman Middle School and N Russell Street between N Commercial and N Flint Avenues in the Eliot Neighborhood. Created in 1940, this green space was jointly named after the City of Albina and Michael Edward Lillis, a neighborhood parks advocate. The park is home to picnic tables, a playground, soccer field, softball field – and now a pollinator-friendly nature patch!

Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary fifth-graders planting native plants in Lillis-Albina Park.

Bringing native plants to developed parks like Lillis-Albina contribute to community environmental health in several ways. Native plants require less watering and chemicals to thrive and create healthy wildlife habitat for pollinators while discouraging invasive species. Habitat patches help manage stormwater naturally and improve the health of our rivers and streams.

The Bureau of Environmental Services manages Portland’s wastewater and stormwater infrastructure to protect public health and the environment. BES’s Clean Rivers Education program offers free classroom and field study science education programs for kindergarten through college students within the City of Portland. Students learn about watershed health, the causes and effects of water pollution, and what they can do to protect rivers and streams.

Portland Parks & Recreation’s Ecological Sustainable Landscapes Initiative is a new program bringing nature to neighborhood parks. This program adds nature patches to developed park landscapes to provide natural experiences for people and habitat for wildlife. Nature patches will help create unique park spaces that support native pollinators, reduce maintenance, provide education and exploration opportunities, and foster collaboration. Parks Urban Forestry’s mission is to manage and ensure Portland’s urban forest infrastructure for current and future generations.

In the upcoming school year, BES and Parks will again team up with the community to extend the nature patch further south towards Harriet Tubman Middle School. Keep an eye out for these new neighbors at Lillis-Albina Park! For more information, or to get involved, please reach out to Brittany Quale, Neighborhood to the River Community Outreach Coordinator, at

By Brittany Quale