Oaks Bottom became an official wildlife refuge in 1988 and was Portland’s first urban wildlife refuge and Migratory Bird Park. Sitting in Southeast Portland, bordered by the Willamette River to the West, Sellwood Park to the South, and the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood to the North and East, Oaks Bottom is a natural gem within the city. Encompassing 163 diverse acres of meadow, marsh, wetland, and riparian forest, Oaks Bottom serves as habitat to over 200 species of migratory and resident birds, mammals including deer, raccoon, beaver, mink, and otter, and hundreds of species of plants, trees, fish, and flowers.
Oaks Bottom sits on the site of a former dump, and the rubble created by the construction of Highway 405. To fill the dump, the plan in the 1960s was to create an attraction on the site such as a motocross course, a gondola, a children’s museum, and a marina. Ultimately, with the support of Portland Audubon, Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League, and the city of Portland, the refuge was established in 1988. With the ongoing support of these entities, and the people of Portland, Oaks Bottom wildlife refuge has continued to flourish.