Our story began in 1975 when Althea Pratt grew concerned over the filling of Hedges Creek Marsh in Tualatin, Oregon. The long-neglected marsh was slowly being eaten away by its growing industrial neighbors. Her passion attracted a growing number of other community members to the cause. Students designed and distributed posters. Volunteers conducted tours. Children dressed as wetland birds and animals and stood outside Tualatin businesses with petitions to save the wetlands. Hundreds attended public meetings at the local elementary school as children, neighbors, community groups testified before the City Council supporting permanent protection of the marsh.
In 1979, the City of Tualatin, with the urging of Governor Robert Straub and Attorney General James Redden, set aside 57 acres of Hedges Creek Marsh in a zone protected for wildlife and education. Soon after, Durametal donated 1.2 acres to The Nature Conservancy followed by an 8-acre donation from Leonard Losli to the Oregon Parks Foundation.
The Wetlands Conservancy was incorporated as a land trust in 1981. The Hedges Creek Marsh acreage previously held by The Nature Conservancy and Oregon State Parks were transferred to The Wetlands Conservancy. Jack Broome, the architect who had led the City of Tualatin’s urban renewal effort, retired from architecture, and became TWC’s first volunteer executive director. Jack married Althea Pratt and moved to Althea’s historic house adjacent to Hedges Creek Marsh. Althea Pratt-Broome and Jack Broome’s dedication, enthusiasm and vision provided the foundation for one of Oregon’s most remarkable stories of grassroots stewardship, bridge-building and preservation. Together they have inspired and motivated countless others and created a legacy of community stewardship for Oregon’s wetlands.
Today, TWC’s constituency spans the entire state of Oregon. TWC has protected more than 1,500 acres of wetlands in 32 preserves stretching from the Portland Metropolitan area to the southern Oregon Coast. Our partnerships and collaborations have grown from largely Portland metropolitan-based efforts to a growing number of joint ventures with coastal watershed councils, individual landowners, businesses, public agencies, land trusts, and other non-profits throughout the state. The Wetlands Conservancy is considered a model for many agencies, non-profits and land trust programs today.