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Our Town: Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island is often called “Portland’s backyard.” For city dwellers it conjures up images of the bucolic island about ten miles north of downtown. In the summer months people go there to pick berries, buy produce, bike on the country roads, and sun on the beaches (one is clothing optional). In the fall it is all about pumpkins.

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

Cars line up for miles with families escaping to the island to pick their pumpkin, run through a corn maze, and generally enjoy autumn on the island. In the quieter months people head there to go bird watching and duck hunting.

However, “Portland’s backyard” doesn’t sit quiet as well for some of the 1,300 people who live on the island. They feel the area that is zoned Exclusive Farm Use is being changed by the hordes of people who flock to the island during these busy seasons.

Some people take issue with the “agri-tourism” elements — like corn mazes, farm-to-plate dinners and concerts — that are changing the face of country farm stands. Others worry about how traffic is affecting the island. And by traffic they mean both cars and bikes; some bicyclists choose to ride side-by-side, making it challenging for cars and farm equipment on the road.

And still more think that Portlanders are simply disrespectful when they come to the island. Especially on the beaches and the wildlife areas. They litter, so the complaints go. They act inappropriately. They don’t leave it as they found it.

Tell us your stories of visiting Sauvie Island. Why do you go? What do you go for?

And if you live or work on Sauvie Island, what is your experience? Do you welcome the city dwellers?

To explore the many other places we’ve visited in our Our Town series, just click here.