• Outdoors Outdoors

Daughter convinces father to pass up millions for their property and do something amazing with it instead: ‘As a family, we talked a lot about this’

The Kehoes were sitting on one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in Northwest Portland.

The Kehoes were sitting on one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in Northwest Portland.

Photo Credit: iStock

A family bypassed selling a $14 million property in Portland, Oregon, to donate the 22 acres to the Portland Audubon Society.

Katie Kehoe convinced her developer father, Marty Kehoe, to preserve the wildlife habitat instead of building 32 homes, the Willamette Week reported in 2019. The area was renamed the Katherine Lynn Kehoe Sanctuary.

“We loved the property and felt that it would make a wonderful gift — not only to the Portland Audubon, but as a permanent gift to the whole city,” Marty Kehoe said.

Other wealthy donors have made similar bestowals in areas ranging from the Waterloo Region in Ontario to the Texas Hill Country.

Portland Audubon had to pay off the real estate’s $200,000 mortgage to receive the gift, which increased its forest holdings to 172 acres. It stated at the time that the undeveloped area was “one of the largest, most ecologically valuable and at-risk parcels on the periphery of Forest Park.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported the City of Portland spent $350,000 on a conservation easement “to help limit the potential of future development” and $150,000 to remove invasive plants and protect water quality.

“This is also a big win for fish and wildlife, and it provides a wildlife quarter that connects our beautiful forest park with other natural areas as far as the coast range,” Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish said.

The Week reported the city’s contribution would help restore stream banks.

“Creek bank erosion is one of the biggest threats to wildlife here — the city believes Balch Creek contains the healthiest population of cutthroat trout in the city,” Aaron Mesh wrote.

The Kehoes were sitting on one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in Northwest Portland, according to Portland Audubon. Home to the headwaters of Bones Creek and Balch Creek, wetlands, steep slopes, and a partially open canopy of deciduous and coniferous trees, it became part of the organization’s Wildlife Sanctuary.

“We’ve fought to protect lands like this for over a century, and felt development would eventually happen if we didn’t act,” Portland Audubon executive director Nick Hardigg said. “We also recognized that this would be one of the most valuable gifts to Portland Audubon ever — worth millions — and we are incredibly grateful to the Kehoe family.”

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