Cerro Gordo Protected

531 acres of prairie, fir and hardwood forest, and a prominent rocky butte outside Cottage Grove are permanently protected in the Cerro Gordo Conservation Easement. Photo by Eric Alan.

“Do what’s right for the land.” It’s an ethos that the people who have lived at Cerro Gordo have taken to heart. Today, thanks to their foresight and dedication, glimmering Willamette Valley prairie, healthy oak and conifer forest, and a prominent rocky butte near Cottage Grove are all protected for conservation. However, it hasn’t been an easy or straightforward path.

In 1974 a visionary group of people led by the late Chris Canfield bought 1,165 acres of forests and meadows above Dorena Lake with the goal of creating a village in harmony with nature. While the original plan never fully materialized, a dedicated core remained committed to conserving this special place.

The Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy, led by board members Jim Stevenson (president), Don Nordin, Eric Alan, and Suzanne Huebner-Sannes, is now proud to celebrate a conservation easement in partnership with the McKenzie River Trust on 531 acres of this land adjacent to Dorena Lake.

Cerro Gordo as seen from across Dorena Lake near Cottage Grove. The prominent rocky butte is now permanently protected for conservation. Photo by MRT staff.

A Different Tool

“We see land conservation and restoration as the primary goal,” says Eric Alan, resident and Conservancy board member. “This easement keeps with the initial vision of Cerro Gordo, and yet it’s a completely different tool than was envisioned in the beginning.”

Cerro Gordo boasts a stunning diversity of habitat types and plant communities throughout its landscape. The property has exceptional native grass diversity and several notable populations of rare and threatened plants, including shaggy horkelia, timwort, tall bugbane, Roemer’s fescue and yellow monkeyflower.

“Every acre is really different,” says Scott Ferguson of Trout Mountain Forestry, who has been working with the people of Cerro Gordo to manage the working forests since 1986. “The quality of the prairies is significant and the conifer habitat is really diverse, too.”

In 2012 a Healthy Forests Reserve Program conservation easement was secured on another 447 acres of Cerro Gordo forestland through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Together, these easements comprise nearly 1,000 acres of contiguous, protected habitat. “It’s a pretty substantial bit of conservation in a key part of the southern Willamette Valley,” Alan says.

Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy members Mary Addams, Shirley Froyd, Suzanne Huebner-Sannes, Charlie Sannes, Eric Alan, Jim Stevenson, Greta Loeffelbein, and Don Nordin. Photo by Eric Alan.

Unique People and a Unique Place

“The property is amazing, but the human element is probably the most unique part of this project. Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy members are on-site stewards,” says Ferguson. “In my work I haven’t met anyone with a more profound connection to place than the people behind Cerro Gordo.”

The Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy looks forward to engaging the community on this special land in the future. They can be reached at P.O. Box 192, Cottage Grove, OR 97424.

This project was funded in part by a grant from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Bonneville Power Administration’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program. Key partners in this conservation success include Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy, the Cerro Gordo landowners, Trout Mountain Forestry and McKenzie River Trust.

Sharing Finn Rock Reach

Exploring New Opportunities for Recreation

The Finn Rock Boat Landing hosts hundreds of people a day in the summer months. With your help, we’re looking at adding a hiking trail and wildlife viewing areas, while protecting the river. Photo by Liz Lawrence.

In addition to rare species like turtles and salmon, Finn Rock Reach includes the popular Finn Rock Boat Landing. Throughout our first year of ownership and management of this unique place, resplendent with enormous cottonwoods and maples, spawning Chinook salmon, and habitat restoration opportunities galore, we’ve heard the question many times: Will you keep the Boat Landing?

For us there was no question: the Finn Rock Boat Landing is a key recreational asset that must be preserved. We’ll keep it open, largely thanks to the enthusiastic and immediate offers of volunteer help and financial support from the McKenzie Guides Association, McKenzie Masters, and other river users.

Now, with your encouragement we’re exploring more possibilities for public access at Finn Rock Reach, including hiking trails and wildlife viewing areas.

Walk a New Trail through an Old Logging Camp

Huckleberry Lane leads past the area that used to be home to the Finn Rock Logging Camp. Photo by Harper Johnson.
Upriver from the boat landing, Huckleberry Lane leads into the forest. This road was once the main street for Finn Rock Logging Camp, the ‘company town’ for Rosboro lumber. Walk down the old road, and imagine it lined with 25 wooden houses, a church, and a baseball field. At the end of the road, a newly installed trail takes you just over a mile into riparian forest. This out-and-back path offers beautiful views of the McKenzie River and is open this season as a trial run. If you visit, let us know what you think!

New Possibilities

Several challenges remain for broader public access at Finn Rock Reach. Opening the property would require thoughtful planning and maintenance to accommodate visitors while still preserving ecological integrity.

“Public access has to be able to adapt to a living river,” notes MRT associate director for conservation Daniel Dietz. “Any infrastructure has to be compatible with this river dynamism.”

On the other side of the river, the salmon spawning grounds in Elk Creek are incredibly sensitive. Opening up this part of the property to public access would require thoughtful planning. Photo by Tim Giraudier / Beautiful Oregon.
The Friends of Finn Rock group is helping us consider our options. This volunteer corps made up of interested community members has met several times and will tour the property this fall.

“Finn Rock has a significant amount of the Chinook salmon spawning grounds in the McKenzie, which is amazing,” adds Dietz. “The property has been a community resource for many years. We’re excited to now be helping to care for the land and bringing together more people to be stewards of this resource.”

What You Can Do

  • Share your feedback! What do you value about outdoor recreation along the McKenzie River? Completing our Finn Rock Boat Landing Recreation Survey will help us plan for the future of the site. Click here for the survey.
  • Join the Friends of Finn Rock! This volunteer group helps guide management decisions and care for Finn Rock Reach. To learn more and join the mailing list, contact volunteer coordinator Elizabeth Goward: elizabeth [at] mckenzieriver [dot] org or 541-345-2799 x109.

About the author

Harper Johnson is an outreach intern with McKenzie River Trust. Harper is a junior at Williams College in Massachusetts, double majoring in Psychology and Economics. She grew up in Eugene and spent many summers enjoying the McKenzie River and other wild areas throughout Oregon. She most recently did research on the Colorado River Delta as an intern at an organization dedicated to protecting special places in Baja California and is excited for the opportunity to work at a similar organization in her hometown. She is interested in outreach and communications and is excited to have the chance to explore this at a land trust and gain valuable experience throughout the summer.

Green Island: A Floodplain In Restoration

A pond restoration project on Green Island brought heavy equipment to re-contour a pond on site this summer. Photo by Christer LaBrecque.
It was nearly impossible to have a conversation over the noise of the bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks. Earlier this month on Green Island, where the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers come together, over twelve thousand cubic yards of soil were being transported.

The McKenzie River Trust acquired 865 acres of Green Island in 2003, recognizing that such extensive acreage, river channels, and off-channel areas provided tremendous opportunities to implement conservation strategies that had been developed by many partner organizations working in the Upper Willamette Basin.

An aerial view of dozens of logs and pieces of large wood used to harden the outlet of a pond that has now become an alcove on Green Island. Alcoves like this are more friendly to native fish and the other floodplain species that rely on them. Photo by Christer LaBrecque.
As MRT and our partners have gotten to know the area better over the last 14 years of management and restoration efforts, the foresight of that initial acquisition and subsequent additions to the property has become increasingly apparent. The Green Island project, presently about 1,100 acres in size, gives us the chance to move beyond talking, and walk the talk of large-scale floodplain restoration.

Transforming a pond, restoring a river

With the support of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Bonneville Power Administration, and a Pacific General Electric Habitat Support grant administered through The Nature Conservancy, we took one more step this summer to increase river-floodplain hydrologic connection and improve habitat quality.

Contractors used heavy equipment to remove a 350 foot by 150 foot levee, originally constructed to make the land more suitable to farming. An existing pond wall was opened, transforming the pond into an alcove that should connect to the floodplain in high water, spreading the river over about 3 acres that was previously inaccessible.

The next step will be to stabilize the site with native grass seedlings. Later this winter, we’ll plant cottonwoods and willows to restore the site.

As the noise of the bulldozers fade, and the calls of birds can be heard again, a conversation will continue: a conversation between the land and the rivers that cradle it.

Come see it for yourself

Want to learn more about restoration efforts on Green Island? Join us for the upcoming tour on August 26th with Christer LaBrecque, MRT’s Restoration Projects Manager, to see first-hand how Green Island is being restored! Register HERE.

To see the floodplain restoration happening across 1,100 acres on Green Island, join us for a free tour on Saturday, August 26. Learn more and register here. Photo by Christer LaBrecque.

Surprises in the Ponds

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 few of the new crop of hatchlings will crawl out and slip quietly into the ponds with their parents. The rest will emerge the following spring.

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

Home Waters for Rare Turtles

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 and other native fishes including stickleback; elk; beaver; otter; mink; a wide variety of dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies; 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 dug up nests (the scientific term is depredated) 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

A visitor takes notes during a recent tour of Finn Rock Reach. Photo by Holly McRae.

About the author

Harper Johnson is an outreach intern with McKenzie River Trust. Harper is a junior at Williams College in Massachusetts, double majoring in Psychology and Economics. She grew up in Eugene and spent many summers enjoying the McKenzie River and other wild areas throughout Oregon. She most recently did research on the Colorado River Delta as an intern at an organization dedicated to protecting special places in Baja California and is excited for the opportunity to work at a similar organization in her hometown. She is interested in outreach and communications and is excited to have the chance to explore this at a land trust and gain valuable experience throughout the summer.

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.