Mission Statement

Our primary purpose shall be to work in a mutual relationship with the City of Sutherlin (City) to assist in the coordination of development and maintenance of the Ford’s Pond property for recreational benefit to the City; and to educate the public concerning the health benefits of outdoor recreation and to increase environmental awareness.

Our volunteers keep Ford’s Pond Community Park clean, safe, and accessible, while improving the habitat for wildlife.

Enjoy exploring and discovering with our partner groups or meet us at the park

Ford’s Pond Community Park and the Friends of Ford’s Pond have been featured in the local media.

The Friends raised over $4 million to transform the Ford’s Pond property into a new park. 

Chronology

February 24, 2014-The City of Sutherlin considers purchasing Ford’s Pond for future municipal use; Sutherlin resident Beth Houseman suggests City Council could concurrently create a park.

April 29, 2014-The Friends of Ford’s Pond is incorporated by residents Beth and Jim Houseman, Heather and Josh Waechter, and Betty and Dale Roberson.

August 14, 2014-The city purchases the Ford’s Pond property and allows public access.

September 4, 2014-The founding Board of Directors meet: Jim Houseman (President), Wendi Stinnett (Treasurer), Beth Houseman (Secretary), Josh Waechter, Janel Sorenson, Colin Murphy, and Michelle Harding.

We successfully convince the city to store Class A wastewater in Ford’s Pond to allow for recreational use. 

March 9, 2015-City Resolution 2015.01: Designates the Ford’s Pond property as a park and the Friends of Ford’s Pond as a city partner in creating recreational opportunities.

The Friends assist the city with a $40,000 grant award from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, along with matching funds from local businesses, individuals, and The Ford Family Foundation for a park master plan.

Cameron McCarthy, a Landscape and Architecture and Planning firm, is hired to develop the Ford’s Pond Community Park Master Plan.

City Council adopts the final plan on December 11, 2017.

The Friends maintain a perimeter path (1.75 miles) around Ford’s Pond and a hillside loop (1-mile) and collect/remove trash.  

Grindings from the Central Avenue resurfacing project are placed at Church Rd. for future use. The city allows parking in July and park usage surges.

The city completes an Urban Growth Boundary Swap removing all, except 5 acres, of the property from city limits.

The Friends begin fundraising for park improvements and host the first event at Ford’s Pond with Blue Zones Project – Umpqua in July 2018. In 2019, the Friends are awarded a $25,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners grant to restore the oak savanna habitat on the west hillside. Working with Sutherlin HS, FFA students harvest acorns and begin growing the seedlings at the school greenhouse. The Friends clear brush on the hillside.

With assistance from the Friends, the city is awarded two grants: 2018 Recreational Trails Program and 2019 Local Government Grant Program. With additional donations, including a $50,000 donation from the Sutherlin Area Chamber of Commerce (transient room tax proceeds) and 2018 and 2019 C. Giles Hunt Charitable Trust grants, over $700,000 is available for improvements. The Dyer Partnership Engineers and Planners, Inc., with David Dougherty, L.A., is contracted for the design/project management, with the ADA-accessible parking area, connection path, and a portion of the perimeter path, along with site prep, utilities, and furnishings scheduled for bid/construction in Summer 2020. 

The Friends sign a 5-year Master Agreement with the city continuing the partnership and outline fundraising goals for 2020.

A weekly Monday Walkers group begins meeting in October 2018.

The Friends adjust to COVID-19 impacts beginning in March 2020, when all in-person contact is restricted. Fundraising continues via regular eNews and Facebook postings, an upgraded website, and a direct mail campaign to the Sutherlin zip code (97479).

In 2020, construction begins on the first phase of improvements. The city awards the construction contract to Cradar Enterprises. The Friends successfully apply to The Ford Family Foundation ($25,000), C. Giles Hunt Charitable Trust ($10,000), and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians Foundation ($5,000) and increase the funding for Projects 1 (Perimeter Path) and 2A (SE Corner) to over $760,000. Delays from COVID-19 and wildfire smoke push the completion date to 2021. During construction, the city opens temporary parking off Hwy 138W.

In 2020, the Friends, on behalf of the city, apply for three Oregon Parks and Recreation grants. All three are awarded, totaling over $960,000. The city will now be able to complete the perimeter path (Project 1) and add restrooms, picnic shelters, and an inclusive, natural playground (Project 2B). Construction is expected to be completed in 2022.

Ford’s Pond remains open and increases in popularity, drawing in residents around the county. Volunteers mow additional “social distancing” paths. Volunteers Tony Rosa and Joe Keady restore three BLM-donated picnic tables and place them at the park.

In December 2020, volunteers, including the Sutherlin HS FFA Chapter, plant 400 oak saplings on the west hillside. The trees had been grown from acorns collected by the students 2 years ago. Funding was made possible through grants from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program ($25,000) and Cascade Community Credit Union ($1,000). The Friends’ volunteers donated over 2,000 hours clearing brush from the hillside to prepare for the planting.

In July, Phase 1 construction of the 35-space Church Road Parking Area and the first half of the Perimeter Path are completed and Ford’s Pond Community Park becomes a very popular place! A new park sign and landscaping enhance the parking lot.

The city awards the design/project management contract for Phase 2 to David Dougherty, DLA Inc., who teams with the Dyer Partnership and Landscape Architect Anta Van Asperdt of LandCurrent, a specialized playground designer. The design team focuses on the inclusive playground design and equipment selection. A community open house is held in December.

The Sutherlin FFA Chapter selects Ford’s Pond for another 25-acre oak savanna restoration project. Acorns are collected onsite in September; the seedlings are scheduled to be planted in fall 2023. The Friends continue to clear brush and utilize a contractor to apply herbicide on the first 25 acres planted.

The Friends continue fundraising for the playground equipment, maintaining the paths, and clearing non-native vegetation around the pond. The USFWS begins a rough popcornflower enhancement project on the east side of the pond.

Beth and Jim Houseman receive the 2020 Sutherlin Area Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award for their work on Ford’s Pond. The Ford’s Pond project is featured in the UV Life Magazine, the News-Review, and on KQEN radio. 

In October, the city first begins releasing Class A water into Ford’s Pond.

Phase 2 design is halted while the city awaits notice-to-proceed letters for two OPRD 2020 grants awarded to complete the pond path. The Friends continue grant writing with success on two new OPRD grants (Land and Water Conservation Fund and Local Government Grant Program) totaling $1.2 million for paved RV/bus parking and playground equipment. With COVID-19 still limiting in-person fundraising, the Friends focus on statewide foundations and local businesses to meet climbing inflation costs. Design resumes in the fall with construction scheduled for summer 2023. As part of the wetland mitigation, a boardwalk section is added to the path design.

A story-telling video is produced by board member Crystal Cunningham and Big Wrench Media, with a $5,000 grant from The Ford Family Foundation.

Two hillside trails designed by volunteer trail construction professionals Pat Pepiot and Scott Shaver open, named Meadowlark Loop (0.7 miles) and Rosa Ridge Loop (0.9 miles). The Friends continue to clear brush, and contract for herbicide spot treatments with funding from a 2022 USFWS grant and The Roundhouse Foundation. Sutherlin FFA Chapter students continue to care for the seedlings at the HS greenhouse.

The city releases Class A water in the spring and late summer resulting in a higher summer pond level. A flock of American white pelicans and a family of river otters become social media favorites.

With delays in processing the grant awards and inflation rising, the city was allowed to modify the grants for Phase 2. The Friends had raised an additional $165,000, which was matched by the grant amendments. Anticipating manufacturing backorders and shipping delays, the city orders playground equipment, restrooms, picnic shelters, and boardwalk materials ahead of the construction contract. JRT Construction is awarded the Phase 2 construction bid and work on the $3.2 million project begins in June.

Due to construction delays, the expected completion date is extended to July 2024.

The City of Sutherlin receives a $10,000 matching grant from the Oregon State Marine Board, for preliminary planning and permitting for future Highway 138W parking and boating facilities. 

The Friends and the Sutherlin FFA Chapter plant over 200 oak seedlings in January as part of the oak savanna restoration project. Over 80% of the seedlings planted in 2020 have survived. 

The Friends celebrate their 10th anniversary on April 29, 2024, and began planning for the next 10 years. With the park’s major construction on track to be completed in July, the Friends begin exploring options for future educational and recreational programming and identifying smaller park improvement projects.

The Friends look forward to several of their long-term projects coming to completion in 2024: the 50-acre oak savanna restoration project, a series of interpretive panels, and the bird viewing plaza.

Read Our Newsletters

Board of Directors

Jim Houseman

President

Brian Menefee

Treasurer

Beth Houseman

Secretary

Crystal Cunningham

Board Member

Geoffrey Faraghan

Board Member