Despite its overfly fanciful name, the artificial wetlands no longer look all that artificial. Trees and shrubs have grown in the last couple of years, as trees and shrubs will if left alone. The walkways winding through the ponds and marshes and past several waterfalls attract joggers, dog walkers and bird watchers. They also accommodate an occasional guy on a bike, if he’s careful not to startle the walkers and gives them a wide berth.
I used to make fun of the name, and it still seems overly precious. It’s not easy to hear the waters talking over the noise washing over the place from across the nearby tracks. But you don’t have to like the name with its pseudo-native connotation in order to enjoy the place by wandering on what must be a couple of miles of trails.
The installation is supposed to further clarify already treated wastewater from Albany, Millersburg and ATI Wah Chang, while also cooling it a bit during the summer to benefit some fish runs in the Willamette River. The cooling means virtually nothing to the much bigger flow of the Willamette, where the talking waters eventually go. But you tend to worry about that less as you cruise through this hospitable habitat for turtles, birds and all kinds of other creatures including, it turns out, us. (hh)