Surprises in the Ponds

Finn Rock Reach is Home to Rare Turtles

Volunteer coordinator Elizabeth Goward looks for signs of turtle nests at Finn Rock Reach.

Before you can even see them, the turtles know you’re there. As you walk towards the ponds, you hear soft plops and see rings in the water. Western pond and western painted turtles escape quickly into the water from their sunbathing perches. Once they realize you are not a predator, they cautiously stick their heads out of the water and slowly climb back onto the logs and rocks that dot the surface of the ponds at Finn Rock Reach.

During the warm months, these native Oregon species spend their days basking on logs, rocks, and even floating plants. As spring turns into summer, adult female turtles begin to lay their eggs in nests in the ground. They cover them with dirt, and the eggs are warmed by the summer sun. With luck, by the time the salmon return to their spawning grounds in nearby Elk Creek, a new crop of hatchlings will crawl out and slip quietly into the ponds with their parents.

Western Pond and Western Painted Turtles bask at Finn Rock Reach near the McKenzie River.

Both of the turtle species found at Finn Rock Reach are rare in the Willamette Valley. Luckily, this area contains some of the most diverse habitat of the upper McKenzie River. In addition to providing a home for western pond and western painted turtles, Finn Rock is home to Chinook salmon, elk, dragonflies, and more.

Turtles need specific characteristics in their habitat, both in water and on land. Western pond turtles are usually found in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Western painted turtles prefer slow moving, shallow water, like streams, canals, sloughs, and ponds. Both nest on land, typically close to the water. The ponds at Finn Rock have a very stable water level, which makes it easy for turtles to find nesting sites that will stay dry during the winter.

To research turtles at the ponds, we look for predated nests like this one.

One of our goals is to make Finn Rock Reach the best possible habitat for all species. The 278-acre property was purchased by McKenzie River Trust in 2015/16 and includes 2 miles of river frontage. The former landowner, Rosboro timber company, built the ponds so that they could gather gravel to construct roads across their network of lands in the McKenzie basin. Nobody suspected that these man-made ponds would attract such sensitive turtle species.

Learning More, Day by Day

To find out how our turtles are using the area, our stewardship interns are making regular visits to the ponds. They’re observing how the turtles are currently using the ponds by watching basking behaviors, taking count of each species, and mapping their nests. The information gathered from this research will help inform our management plan for the property.

The next step is restoration to help improve the habitat. Restoration will likely include re-grading the banks of the ponds and planting them with natural vegetation to improve nesting and rearing areas. It will also likely include making the area less conducive to invasive species, and creating better basking spots.

Balancing Needs for Turtles and Salmon

Stewardship intern Peter Cooper and volunteer coordinator Elizabeth Goward look for signs of turtles in the ponds. Learning more about the turtles will help us plan for restoration at Finn Rock Reach.

Before the ponds were created, this area was a natural floodplain. During the winter and larger flood events, the river would expand on to the floodplain, creating lots of side channels. These slow moving waters are the perfect habitat for young salmon, which aren’t yet strong enough to take on the fast flowing river. Today, though, the high, steep edges of the ponds prevent the river from making these connections and creating side channels.

The challenge we now face is how to restore floodplain habitat for juvenile salmon, while still keeping the ponds and dry nesting habitat for our native turtle species. One possibility is to turn part of the pond area back into floodplain, while keeping a section as ponds for turtle habitat. Fortunately, turtles are smart creatures, and they will be able to utilize the remaining nesting areas.

What You Can Do

It’s important to protect these habitats as our population expands and demands on the McKenzie River grow.

At McKenzie River Trust, we are working hard to do our part to help make Finn Rock an even better habitat for native species. In April, we launched the McKenzie Homewaters Campaign, a $6 million community effort to protect, restore, and care for Finn Rock Reach, and to expand our conservation footprint up and downstream. To date, over 200 people like you have contributed, bringing us to more than 2/3 of our goal.

If you’re interested in seeing the turtles and exploring Finn Rock Reach, please join us on one of our tours and let us know that you want to learn more. We would be happy to sit down or walk the land with you to introduce you to the projects at Finn Rock and elsewhere in the watershed.

Join us for an upcoming tour

Story and photos by Harper Johnson

A Message From Joe Moll


 
Last night, we hosted another sell-out crowd of over 500 people for a particularly special McKenzie Memories event. In addition to looking back over the last century, to remind ourselves of the vision and hard work and sacrifice of the people who came before us, we very much looked forward, with a shared vision about what we want the McKenzie, our Homewaters, to be like 10, 50, and 100 years from now. Last night, in addition to inviting everyone to immerse themselves in the history of lodges, and river trips, and the remarkable water cycle of the McKenzie River itself, we invited our community to commit to helping us reach to goals of the McKenzie Homewaters Campaign.


 
After working quietly for over a year, last night we launched the public phase of the McKenzie Homewaters Campaign. We seek to bring $6 million to bear on the health of the river by the time the campaign ends at midnight, New Years Eve 2017. The campaign centers on three goals:

  • Conserving clean drinking water.
  • Protecting salmon habitat.
  • Preserving river access.

What will we do with the $6 million?

  • We will pay down the $1.5 million loan we took out to acquire the Finn Rock Reach properties.
  • We will put another $2 million aside for new land deals that protect other special lands riverlands in the McKenzie basin as the opportunities arise.
  • We will gather over $1 million to enhance habitats, giving the river more room to roam, making places less suitable for largemouth bass, and more suitable for native McKenzie Redsides rainbow trout and Chinook salmon. This will also give us the ability to make improvements at the Finn Rock Boat Landing, and perhaps in the years ahead construct a trail through the site of the old Finn Rock Logging Camp adjacent to it.
  • And we will put aside more than $1 million to care for these lands long term, to build on the culture of land and water stewardship that thrives throughout the watershed.

Now, I must say, we’ve been quietly working on securing these funds already. In fact there were many people in the room last night who have already given or made commitments to the campaign. Starting with a tremendous $100,000 contribution just one year ago, immediately following last year’s McKenzie Memories event, we have secured gifts, grants, and pledges of (nearly) $4 million.


 
We want to particularly thank the Oregon Community Foundation for the help they have given to this campaign, and the guidance they afford the families who have the means to contribute philanthropically to the betterment of Oregon, including tremendous early gifts to our campaign.

We are also extremely fortunate in this community to have not only the McKenzie River, but also forward thinking water utilities, Eugene Water and Electric Board and Springfield Utility Board especially, to care for and deliver these resources to our homes and businesses. I’ve said before that the McKenzie River Trust would not be where it is today without the steadfast support and encouragement from EWEB staff and Board members over the last two decades. For the Finn Rock Reach project and this campaign, once again EWEB stepped up immediately to help us assess and secure the Rosboro lands with a $250,000 grant. But they are doing much more for this campaign as well.

Last night, EWEB Commissioner John Brown joined me on stage to announce a special challenge opportunity for the campaign. For every $1 you give, EWEB will match that, dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 through December 31.

Our deepest gratitude to John and his fellow forward-thinking EWEB commissioners, who decided to offer up this grant and challenge opportunity. They recognize that we can keep our drinking water clean by protecting the lands that cradle this river, or by adding chemicals to clean it up after it gets dirty. Far more efficient to keep it clean to begin with. This campaign is an important way to do just that.

Whether or not you were in the audience last night, by being a member or a friend of the McKenzie River Trust, you are already announcing that you love this river, you love this place and its history, and you want to make sure that your grandchildren and their grandchildren can have it to love and cherish and care for as well.


 
We are hopeful that over the course of this campaign, your love will swell and your commitment will deepen. We hope that you will do what Jeff Ziller advised in the campaign video we premiered last night: get out in the field with us, help with your hands, help with your pocketbook. If you have an itch to donate right now, then do so through this link. But you can also ask for more information. I’d like you to consider reaching out to one of the MRT staff or Board members or campaign leaders; let us know that you want to learn more. Or join us on a field trip to the old Finn Rock Logging Camp next weekend. Then in the coming weeks and months we can sit down with you and your friends and colleagues or walk in the field with you and them to introduce you further to the project at Finn Rock and opportunities elsewhere in the watershed.

Campaign co-chairs Dave Funk and Hugh Prichard with MRT executive director Joe Moll. Photo by Jon C Meyers.
I’d love for you to think deeply about how much these Homewaters mean to you, and how transformational a gift you’d consider making. As our Honorary Campaign chair Barry Lopez said to us on the McKenzie Memories stage last year, when it comes to being a good resident of this place, whether your family has been here for 5 generations or you just moved here last week, isn’t the most important thing that we love this river, our Homewaters? Of course you can show your love for a person or a place or an organization in many ways. We welcome them all, from all.

Thank you for considering a gift to this campaign.

–Joe Moll, executive director of McKenzie River Trust since 2005

McKenzie Homewaters Campaign News Release

A side channel of the McKenzie River flows through Finn Rock Reach, the centerpiece of the $6 million McKenzie Homewaters Campaign. Photo by Tim Giraudier / Beautiful Oregon.
Contact:
Liz Lawrence, McKenzie River Trust, 541-844-9334 cell, 541-345-2799 office
Pat Walsh, Vox PRPA, 541-513-1236

April 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

McKenzie River Trust To Launch The McKenzie Homewaters Campaign

EUGENE, Ore. — McKenzie River Trust will launch The McKenzie Homewaters Campaign to raise $6 million to fund initiatives to protect, conserve, and restore the McKenzie River’s Finn Rock Reach. The Homewaters Campaign will be announced during the McKenzie River Trust’s Sixth Annual McKenzie Memories evening on Fri., April 7, 2017, at Venue 252. The event begins at 7 pm.

“The McKenzie River is a special place that provides life to our communities as a source for clean drinking water, recreation, and habitat for salmon and wildlife,” said Dave Funk of bell+funk and co-chair of the campaign. “The opportunity to ensure a place like Finn Rock Reach is cared for does not come along very often, and the Homewaters Campaign lets us take care of the river that takes care of us.”

In 2015, McKenzie River Trust bought Finn Rock Reach from Rosboro forest products company following a closed-bid auction. The property comprises two miles of land fronting both sides of the McKenzie River, including the popular Finn Rock Boat Landing and the former Finn Rock Logging Camp. McKenzie River Trust used funds from its own Land Protection Fund and a bridge loan for conservation projects to buy the property.

“Funds raised from the campaign will allow McKenzie River Trust to own Finn Rock Reach debt-free and provide the resources necessary to restore and care for it today and in the long-term.” said Hugh Prichard, Prichard Partners, campaign co-chair. “Also, campaign resources will be set aside so the Trust is ready to expand its conservation footprint in the McKenzie Valley as appropriate opportunities present themselves.”

In support of the Trust, Eugene Water & Electric Board will match dollar for dollar the first $500,000 donated to the campaign by Dec. 31, 2017.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to contribute in significant ways to EWEB’s stewardship of the McKenzie River,” said Dick Helgeson, president of the Eugene Water & Electric Board of Commissioners. “To be able to partner with McKenzie River Trust to protect these special lands and the vital water that runs through them is a unique and worthy undertaking for this utility.”

More information about the Homewaters Campaign, including the EWEB matching program, can be found at: mckenzieriver.org/homewaters/

The McKenzie Memories evening is an annual celebration of the history of the McKenzie River. This year’s event features storytelling by Steve Schaefers, Don Wouda, and Dana Burwell from the McKenzie River Guides Association. Gordon Grant, a former river guide, hydrologist, and “water guru” will weave tales of the McKenzie’s unique geology.

There will be a memorial tribute to legendary McKenzie River Guide Dave Helfrich, who died in October 2016, at age 84. Helfrich was known as the consummate outdoorsman, boatman, fisherman, Northwest rivers advocate, and innovator for improving design of the equipment used on the river.

“It is only right that the Homewaters Campaign begins at the Trust’s McKenzie Memories evening,” said Joe Moll, executive director, McKenzie River Trust. “It is a time when we honor our past, celebrate the present, and build to the future.”

Tickets to McKenzie Memories evening are sold out. The event will be live streamed at: facebook.com/McKenzieRiverTrust.

About the McKenzie River Trust:
The McKenzie River Trust is a nonprofit land trust based in Eugene, Oregon. Our mission is to help people protect and care for the lands and rivers they cherish in western Oregon. Since 1989, we’ve acquired property and voluntary conservation easements to protect nearly 5,000 acres of clean, free-flowing rivers, plentiful salmon runs, and vibrant farms and forests that provide livelihoods and habitat. We envision a future in which conservation lands are at the core of community efforts to sustain clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and diverse natural resource economies in western Oregon. Working with private willing landowners in eight different watersheds from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, we take on the responsibility of ensuring that the land and its conservation values will be protected forever. For more information, visit www.mckenzieriver.org.

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New quilt showcases McKenzie River Watershed


“My family and I have been boating on the McKenzie River since 1981 and we love this place,” says Mary Nyquist Koons, a member of the McKenzie River Trust with her husband, James, since 2009. “As members of the Trust we discovered we could help protect this beautiful, sacred river and land with a financial gift. We hope others will join us.”

After touring MRT’s Finn Rock Reach property last fall and watching salmon spawning in their homewaters, Mary began thinking about this special place in a different way. “The stretch of river at Finn Rock is one of my favorite places in all of Oregon – and I wanted to understand how it related to the rest of the watershed.”

“I love maps, I love the McKenzie River and I love quilts. So I thought, why not put them all together?”

First Mary studied a BLM map that MRT executive director Joe Moll lent her; the river was so small that it was hard to find in places. “It’s easy to see the relationship of the rivers on this quilt map. The process of translating the map into textiles was a visual and tactile experience for me. This project gave me the chance to understand how these places fit within the bigger picture of the watershed. Now when I’m in the field, I know where I am.”

“This quilt is my gift of hope for the preservation and celebration of the McKenzie River. I hope it’s something that MRT can use to share with others to help them visually understand the river through art.” Quilt maps are a bit unusual in the quilt world. “This quilt is a great combination of what I know and love. I sew. I boat. I drink the water.”

The McKenzie River Watershed quilt hangs in the MRT office. Feel free to stop by and take in the many intricate details of place that are sewn into this beautiful art piece.

Double Your Gift

Join or Renew: Donate Now!

Every gift in March will go twice as far thanks to our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs who are offering a $10,000 Match Gift Challenge. Update, March 28: We met the match! Now help us reach our stretch goal of $15,000.

Our Goal: 1,000 Members in 2017

In 2017 we’re aiming to grow our membership to over 1,000. Will you help us reach that goal by joining as a member today or renewing your membership?

Membership support is the lifeblood of the McKenzie River Trust. Your contributions give us the legs we need to get out and work with landowners. You help pull scot’s broom from the ground and replace it with big leaf maple, red osier dogwood, and ocean spray. Members both lead and join in our naturalist walks across fields, through forests, and over gravel bars. Perhaps most importantly, membership is a way to gather with others who share a love for the lands and rivers that stitch together the communities of western Oregon.

$10,000 Match Gift Challenge

Mountain Rose Herbs is challenging our members and those considering joining us by putting up $10,000 in matching funds for all membership gifts in March 2017. Give now, and your donation will be DOUBLED for land conservation in western Oregon!

Update, March 28: We met the match! Now help us reach our stretch goal of $15,000. Less than $4,000 to go.

For more information about the Match Gift Challenge, please contact Julia Sherwood, Membership Coordinator, at 541-345-2799 x107 or julia@mckenzieriver.org.

Beers Made By Walking returns to Eugene

Photo by Trask Bedortha

Drink up the land. That’s what four local breweries and a cidery are hoping you’ll do on December 1st when Beers Made By Walking (BMBW) returns for a Eugene-based release party at The Bier Stein and The Tap & Growler.

This summer we’ve again worked with BMBW to invite brewers to create place-based beers inspired by plants found on nature walks on MRT properties.

The public walks this summer on three places protected by MRT in the southern Willamette Valley taught people about native and invasive plants, in addition to private land conservation in the area. The brewers have been challenged to create a beer or cider that represents the trails they walked.

This brewers have included a huge range of styles and ingredients in their beers. These experimental beers will be a joy to experience, particularly because they were inspired by the lands MRT members are helping to protect.

The proceeds from the events at The Bier Stein and The Tap & Growler on December 1st will support MRT’s mission.

Participating breweries and cidery include:
Agrarian Ales, Claim 52 Brewing, Falling Sky Brewing, Oakshire Brewing, and Wildcraft Cider Works. Additional support was provided by Ninkasi Brewing.

Tapping event details

For more details about the event, including a link to the full beer list, click here.

Coyote Creek Meadows Protected

Caring for the lands and rivers we cherish

With your generous support, 38 acres of wetlands and camas-filled meadows are now permanently protected for conservation. Thank you!

When Mary Minniti and Mike Shippey bought their 47 acre farm property 17 years ago, both buildings and land were clearly diamonds in the rough… with a heavy emphasis on rough.

“This living room ceiling was low and dark. It was like being in a cave: there were no windows providing a view of the wetland,” remarks Mary during a recent visit. “We thought we would move onto the land in five years, but we were spending every weekend here, so we just dove in. And we were here within 18 months.”

At the same time, Mike had looked on the heavily impacted land with promise. “Scattered among the meadow of planted forage grasses, I found many natives, including some rare ones, like Bradshaw’s lomatium.” An accomplished landscape architect, Mike set about to create Coyote Creek Meadows, a restoration project that included two wetland mitigation sites and a larger labor of love.

“We planted those ash, and those slough sedge; looks like the ash could use some water.”

We’re walking their property on a warm late September afternoon, meandering with the banks of Coyote Creek, just a mile upstream of its entry to Fern Ridge Reservoir. Coyote Creek Meadows is the latest addition to the McKenzie River Trust’s portfolio of protected lands: 38 acres under conservation easement, just 1/4 mile downstream from the Trust’s Coyote Spencer Wetlands, and 1/2 mile upstream from an extensive Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Management Area. Mary and Mike worked with MRT staff over the last two years to agree on terms and secure funding through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), a program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Landowners Mike Shippey and Mary Minniti protected their wetland property near Eugene with a conservation easement. Photo by Anne Nunn Photographers.

“We see our property as piece of that larger conservation vision for Coyote Creek. Our daughters and granddaughters all love this place as well. And they know that whatever they choose to do with the house and its lot, this larger property will be protected for nature and the public good long after we are gone.”

In addition to serving as a refuge of native wetland plants, Coyote Creek Meadows provides habitat for cutthroat trout, otters, elk, black bear, a metropolis of frogs, and large flocks of waterfowl in the winter. “We’ve had a dozen or so wood ducks roosting in the oaks next to our house,” says Mary with pride and wonder.

Both Mary and Mike attribute their love of nature and their commitment to its care to childhoods spent outside. Mike grew up on the outskirts Salem, where two acres of filberts and ready access to Mill Creek gave him the chance to explore, hunt, and fish. Mary’s childhood backyard was a forest on the edge of Renton, Washington. Their daughters now have careers in literature and food, and the land clearly calls to them both.

“This is the wedding ceremony meadow,” says Mike as we continue our walk. “Our daughter of course had to pick the one spot that was thick with 8’ tall Armenian blackberry, saying, ‘I want to be married between these two oak trees.’” Weeks of mowing and digging cleared out the blackberry, and extended the footprint of restoration. The meadow is now thick with native grasses, forbs and shrubs….

Clearly this is a family place, with a family that keeps growing. Grandchildren’s toys are scattered here and there. And long time MRT volunteers Matt and Holly McRae spent two years living in a small rental cottage on the site, caring for the place, caring for the earth, and caring for each other.

“Mary and Mike have a commitment to their land: to caring for it, to restoring it, to preserving its ecological function,” says Holly. “They have an appreciation for all of the communities that live on their property – plants, fungus, insects, animals large and small. They weave together a community of people connected by their property – a connection created by a place, rather than by time or proximity.”

Mary and Mike with their grandkids outside their home along Coyote Creek. Photo by Anne Nunn Photographers.

Mary’s career in health care has culminated in work that invites families to participate more closely in the recovery of loved ones, not relying on experts alone, but working hand in hand. They are taking a similar approach with Coyote Creek Meadows.

“Mary and Mike are generous with their time and affection.” Matt McRae adds. “Every Thanksgiving dinner begins with a walk around the property. To know Mary and Mike is to know their property. That’s who they are – they love and share that space. They share their love of that land. They truly look at the future for their grandchildren, and the legacy they will leave.”

The Long Tom Watershed Council, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Institute for Applied Ecology, the McKenzie River Trust… these are all professional organizations with strategic objectives and the capacity to carry out conservation projects. Mary and Mike cherish their place and the good fortune that allowed them to acquire and now care for it. The partnership, that melding of mind and heart in a place, in the work of conservation, is an investment that gives rise to more Bradshaw’s lomatium, more wood ducks, and fields of camas and buttercups in the spring. Look for an announcement for a guided tour of the site in spring 2017.

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians Regain Salmon-Bearing Wetlands in Ancestral Homeland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10-25-2016

Contact:
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (CTSI):
Mike Kennedy, Natural Resources Manager
541.444.8232
mikek@ctsi.nsn.us

McKenzie River Trust (MRT):
Liz Lawrence, Associate Director
541.844.9334 (cell) 541.345.2799 (office)
llawrence@mckenzieriver.org

Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM):
Carla Hudson
Stakeholder Relations & Communications
503.467.0805
chudson@ecotrustforests.com

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians Regain Salmon-Bearing Wetlands in Ancestral Homeland

Purchase of the Fivemile Creek property restores Tribe’s ancestral homeland while protecting critical coho salmon habitat.

SILETZ, Ore. – October 25, 2016The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (CTSI) acquired 125 acres of ecologically and culturally significant wetlands on the central Oregon coast. The property, known as Fivemile Creek, is located upstream of Tahkenitch Lake between Florence and Reedsport. Fivemile Creek provides critical nursery habitat for Oregon’s most threatened and emblematic salmon species—the native Oregon coast coho salmon. The Tribe’s purchase will ensure that these wetlands and associated habitat will continue to support tribal cultural traditions while enhancing the long term vitality of the native salmon run.

The mouth of Fivemile Creek downstream of where it flows through the newly protected Fivemile Creek property and into Tahkenitch Lake. Photo courtesy Ecotrust Forest Management.

“The Siletz Tribe is pleased to acquire this property of our ancestors and help protect coho salmon,” said Tribal Chairman Delores Pigsley. “It’s part of our cultural tradition to take care of the land and its inhabitants, and this is another opportunity to do both. I’d like to thank Ecotrust Forest Management, the McKenzie River Trust, and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board for their efforts in making this happen.”

Studies have shown that Fivemile Creek and its associated wetlands support some of the highest numbers of adult Oregon coast coho of any stream in Oregon. Hundreds of adult fish return yearly from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the creek. The associated freshwater wetlands serve as a nursery for young salmon before they return to the Pacific Ocean. These fish populations are a significant economic driver for the Oregon Coast in terms of both commercial and recreational fishing. The 2015 Oregon Commercial Fishing Industry Report stated that commercial fishing alone generated $205 million in personal income. In order for these benefits to continue, salmon populations need stewards of the land—like CTSI—with long-term strategies that can support consistent cold water temperatures and functioning intact wetland habitat.

CTSI acquired the land from Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM), a for-profit FSC-certified forestland investment company that acquires and manages forestland in the Pacific Northwest region on behalf of its clients. EFM purchased Fivemile Creek in 2013 due to the property’s conservation significance and importance to the Tribe. “We are honored to have facilitated this important and historic transaction with the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians, in partnership with the McKenzie River Trust and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. Fivemile Creek is a property that will greatly benefit from the Tribe’s deep knowledge, cultural traditions and significant history in this area.” said Bettina von Hagen, CEO of EFM.

The McKenzie River Trust (MRT), a not-for-profit land trust based in Eugene, Oregon, facilitated the transaction and secured grant funds for the sale. “We are privileged to have been able to be a part of this transfer,” said Joe Moll, executive director of the McKenzie River Trust. “Working together with EFM, the Siletz Tribe, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and other partners—this is how we are making progress at restoring salmon runs, healthy forests, and strong communities.”

Freshwater wetlands along Fivemile Creek serve as a nursery for young salmon. Photo courtesy Ecotrust Forest Management.

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), a state agency that provides grants for Oregonians to take care of local streams, rivers, wetlands, and natural areas, provided funding for the project. All three project partners contributed both cash and in-kind support. “This acquisition is located in the Tahkenitch Lake watershed which is highly productive for coho salmon,” said Meta Loftsgaarden, executive director of OWEB. “In addition to ecological values, this site offers important cultural benefits that will be preserved by the Siletz Tribe. OWEB is excited to be a part of this historic transaction.”

With the purchase of this land, CTSI is now poised to begin work to enhance the fish, wildlife, and plant communities on the property. The Tribe will be removing two old cross dikes and exploring options such as enhanced native plantings and adding large wood to the wetlands in order to increase the number of places for young fish to grow before journeying to the ocean.

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About the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians:
The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians is a diverse confederation of 27 Western Oregon, Northern California and Southern Washington bands. A 1.1 million-acre reservation was established by President Franklin Pierce on Nov. 9, 1855, fulfilling the stipulations of eight treaties. Over time, reservation lands were drastically reduced and the Tribe was terminated as a Tribe in 1954. In 1977, the Siletz Tribe was the second Tribe in the nation to achieve restoration and in 1980, some reservation lands were re-established. Since 1980, the Tribe has increased its land base to 15,615 acres, which includes 15,016 acres of timberland and 599 acres for cultural preservation, housing, operations, economic purposes, and wildlife enhancement. For more information, visit www.ctsi.nsn.us.

About Ecotrust Forest Management:
Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM) is a private forestland investment management company that strategically acquires and manages ecologically significant forestland in the western United States on behalf of its clients. Founded in 2004 by our parent company Ecotrust, we currently manage 27,000 acres of Northwest forestland to enhance forest health and productivity, and to produce a diverse array of forest products and services including timber, biomass, carbon, and improved habitat and water quality. For more information, visit www.ecotrustforests.com.

About the McKenzie River Trust:
The McKenzie River Trust is a nonprofit land trust based in Eugene, Oregon. Our mission is to help people protect and care for the lands and rivers they cherish in western Oregon. Since 1989, we’ve acquired property and voluntary conservation easements to protect over 4,800 acres of clean, free-flowing rivers, plentiful salmon runs, and vibrant farms and forests that provide livelihoods and habitat. We envision a future in which conservation lands are at the core of community efforts to sustain clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and diverse natural resource economies in western Oregon. Working with private willing landowners in eight different watersheds from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, we take on the responsibility of ensuring that the land and its conservation values will be protected forever. For more information, visit www.mckenzieriver.org.

Press Release: McKenzie Camp acquisition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 30, 2015

Contact: Joe Moll
Executive Director, McKenzie River Trust
541-844-6284 (cell)
541-345-2799 (office)
jmoll@mckenzieriver.org

McKenzie River Trust Protects Clean Water and Salmon Habitat Near Blue River in Land Acquisition From Rosboro

A side channel of the McKenzie River flows through the McKenzie Camp property, now protected thanks to a land acquisition by the McKenzie River Trust. MRT purchased 154 acres of riverfront land that includes numerous side channels, ponds, wetlands, and old floodplain forest in the scenic McKenzie River corridor from Rosboro on December 30, 2015. Photo by Tim Giraudier.
(EUGENE, OR) The McKenzie River Trust (MRT) has purchased 154 acres of riverfront land along the McKenzie River near the town of Blue River. The property, called McKenzie Camp, includes approximately two miles of riverfront, numerous side channels, ponds, wetlands, and old floodplain forest in the scenic McKenzie River corridor. MRT, a nonprofit land trust that has protected over 4,000 acres of healthy natural lands in the region, will steward the land for its clean water and fish and wildlife habitat. Rosboro sold the land to MRT after a closed-bid auction.

“We are grateful to the folks at Rosboro for working with us on this legacy project,” said Joe Moll, Executive Director of the McKenzie River Trust. “When you think of the McKenzie River, you imagine clean blue water, incredible salmon spawning habitat, and healthy floodplain forests. This property has all of that.”

MRT and Rosboro hope to reach agreement in the coming weeks on the sale of additional acreage across the river and nearby, including the Finn Rock Boat launch and a former logging camp used by Rosboro employees until the 1980s. After purchasing these additional parcels, MRT will work with local partners to manage the land, including possible restoration of areas impacted by gravel extraction and timber harvest. Details of the transactions are still being worked out.

In November, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) authorized a grant to MRT of $250,000 for conservation planning and restoration of McKenzie Camp, as well as up to $500,000 as a matching challenge grant toward long-term stewardship of the site.

“The acquisition and long-term conservation of this property represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the 200,000 people in the greater Eugene area who rely on the McKenzie as their sole source of drinking water,” said Karl Morgenstern, EWEB water source protection manager. “The Trust’s planned activities to enhance the floodplain forest and wetlands in this part of the watershed will contribute in significant ways to EWEB’s source protection efforts.”

MRT used private donations and a low-interest loan from Craft3’s Conservation Bridge Fund program to pay for the purchase. The Conservation Bridge Fund provides loans to conservation organizations like MRT to acquire sensitive lands, restore habitat and protect water quality. The loan program was created through a program related investment and grants from the Meyer Memorial Trust.

MRT will be seeking additional donations and grants to pay back the loan, fund the subsequent purchase and stewardship of the additional parcels, and meet the EWEB challenge grant. Tax deductible gifts will be accepted through the MRT website, mckenzieriver.org, via phone at 541-345-2799, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 1245 Pearl St, Eugene, OR 97401.

About the McKenzie River Trust:
The McKenzie River Trust is a nonprofit land trust with a mission to help people protect and care for the lands and rivers they cherish in western Oregon. Since 1989, we’ve acquired property and voluntary conservation easements to protect over 4,000 acres of clean, free-flowing rivers, plentiful salmon runs, and vibrant farms and forests that provide livelihoods and habitat. We envision a future in which conservation lands are at the core of community efforts to sustain clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and diverse natural resource economies in western Oregon. Working with private willing landowners in eight different watersheds from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, we take on the responsibility of ensuring that the land and its conservation values will be protected forever. For more information, visit mckenzieriver.org.

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It’s the trees

Thanks to you, an oak woodland and working forest is protected

When you ask Doug and Linda Carnine why it was important to permanently protect their 294-acre property a few miles south of Eugene, it seems to always come back to the trees.

Landowners Doug and Linda Carnine have protected 294 acres of their land on Lorane Highway for native plants and wildlife.

Inspired by a lifetime of travel, Doug and Linda have invested heavily in conservation in their own backyard.

They’ve purchased cut-over parcels of land around Lane County with a vision to turn them into thriving forests that clean the air and provide a home for native hawks, bees, cougars, rattlesnakes, and bears.

Now, one of those areas will be protected forever, thanks to a conservation easement the Carnines developed with the McKenzie River Trust. Funding for the project came from the Bonneville Power Administration and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program, and members of the McKenzie River Trust. The Carnines also donated a portion of the value of the easement to make sure the land would be protected.

Doug and Linda will continue to own the land and manage it for its wildlife habitat, native plants, and for the public, who can access the property on walking trails. They will also continue to involve the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Confederated Tribes of Siletz, and Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon.

Total persistence

Getting the land to the condition it’s in today has taken years of hard work.

“Each of these trees is one we have intimate relations with,” says Linda. We’re standing in a place, she explains, that was once home to a ten foot wall of scotch broom. Sometimes, when Doug and Linda came to visit, they’d find young trees they had planted in an area gnarled, twisted, and bent. “They about died several times.”

Linda points to one redwood sapling, about ten feet tall atop the hill of the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve and smiles.

“That one is amazing, the way it has popped up! It got real skinny, bent over, and we used stakes and all sorts of things to keep it growing, and now… look at that! Standing up and growing tall.”

“We probably replanted this spot about five times,” adds Doug.

Dedicated to Andy

The preserve’s namesake may be familiar to longtime members of the McKenzie River Trust.

Andrew “Andy” Reasoner, the preserve’s namesake, was MRT’s first Conservation Director from 2005 to 2007.

Andrew Reasoner’s enthusiasm for life extended to his community, family, and work as MRT’s first ever Conservation Director from 2005 to 2007. A warm, energetic and caring person, Andy was able to connect with anyone, from the youngest child to the most skeptical landowner.

Andy’s friend Darin Stringer has worked with the Carnine family for over a decade to support restoration of their land. Andy lived next door to the property and often hiked there. “He was such an avid outdoorsman,” said Darin. As a neighbor “he was really interested in seeing the property conserved.”

Andy passed away in 2007 after battling cancer. When Darin suggested that the Carines dedicate the preserve to Andy, it seemed a fitting tribute. That is even more true now, as the conservation easement will forever protect a place that Andy loved.

Catching on

“People are looking for a way to give back,” says Doug, explaining why more and more lands south of Eugene have been protected in recent years.

Oak woodlands dominate the views at the Andy Reasoner Wildlife Preserve. Photo by Tim Giraudier, Beautiful Oregon.

“For some reason land conservation resonates with them. Maybe they have heard the data on endangered habitat in oak savannahs and how important oaks are for so many species.”

That’s what Steve Smith, a retired US Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager in the Willamette Valley, told Doug and Linda when he visited their property some years back.

Steve explained that oak savannah is the tenth most endangered habitat in the world. “We’ve lost a huge percentage of what was here when the Native Americans used fire to protect the oak,” says Linda.

It’s protected… so what’s next?

It seems conservation work is never done. Next up, Doug and Linda will work with the Long Tom Watershed Council to make the habitat even more attractive for sensitive species.

Pointing to a young forest of fir and oak to the north, Doug explains the conservation enhancement project. “We’re going to create a corridor from here all the way down to the prairie. We’ll take out some trees, release a lot of native plants and remove invasives.”

There’s a little rock out-cropping, which means diversity and the occasional rattlesnake sighting. There’s an old hunting blind where people have seen a bear cub running past. There’s chinquapin, Willamette Valley pine, and a woody grove that Linda calls her “madrone garden” that flourished in the hot, dry summer of 2015. And there are the oaks.

A special forest management zone in the easement will ensure that oaks will be protected in the midst of an area that the Carnines and any future landowners can thin for timber. The easement will require the area to be managed for the sake of the oak trees, rather than for maximal harvest.

Your visit

You can come see the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve for yourself. In fact, the Carnines encourage it. “We ask people to give us a call,” says Linda. “It’s nice to know who’s out here.”

They ask that you access the property only on foot, and that dogs stay on leash. “Someone spotted a family of bobcats up here, so we’re really trying to protect them,” she adds.

When you visit…

  • Please do not block the gate.
  • Please call before your visit.
  • Please access on foot only.
  • Please keep all dogs on leash.

Before your visit, please call Doug and Linda to let them know you are coming: 541-485-3781

Address: 84731 Lorane Highway, Eugene OR 97405 – note that the address is approximate. There is no mailbox but look for the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve sign (pictured above) and the small pull-out by the locked gate. Do not block the gate.