A "natural area" is any undeveloped or predominantly undeveloped land, including waterways, in and around an urban area. They can be either public or privately owned. City-owned properties may be considered a natural area when they include one or more of these features: meadows, forests, hilltops, orchards, farms, or marshes. The term "open space" was previously used for these areas but in 2009, the term "open space" was replaced with "natural area" to better describe their terrain and define their purpose.
Natural areas benefit our community in many ways. They offers opportunities for recreation, adds beauty to our surroundings, and gives relief from the hard surfaces of the city landscape. It also provides ecosystem services - natural processes that contribute to economic, human, and wildlife well-being.
Much of the natural areas around Corvallis will end up within city limits someday. Since open space is often developed for shops, offices, industries, and homes, it is important for the City to think about whether we want any of today's open spaces to remain in their undeveloped state. If so, then we need to decide which lands are most important to us and take steps to protect them.
There are already many acres of natural area around Corvallis (although they don't all share the same degree of development protection).
By the year 2020, 57-60,000 people are expected to be living here, so it is natural to expect our city's boundaries to grow. Our current natural areas may disappear or become more difficult to maintain in their natural state. We do not want them to diminish entirely, or suffer from overuse. Adding protected open spaces and designated natural areas as we grow is one way to help our quality of life keep pace with our population growth. The Parks & Recreation department works hand-in-hand with the Parks, Natural Areas & Recreation Board to ensure the natural areas listed to the left, remain protected.