So Just What is a Land Trust Anyway?

Green Island is a place protected by us, your local land trust! Photo by Tim Giraudier – Beautiful Oregon.
As we gear up for Get Outdoors Day alongside 12 other land trusts across Oregon, we are starting to hear a question repeated over and over. What’s a land trust?

When you join us on Green Island or at one of our other many events on the land, you will be standing on land protected by McKenzie River Trust. We are one of more than 1,700 non-profit land trusts around the country. Collectively, land trusts have protected over 47 million acres of wildlife habitat, working farms, forests, wetlands, trails, scenic vistas, parks, and community gardens!

What’s a Land Trust?

A land trust is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect, preserve, and steward special lands by working with willing landowners and various community partners.

The two most widely used tools to accomplish this mission are conservation easements and fee-title purchase. In the case of Green Island, the Green family wished to see this land remain undeveloped, so they sold the property to MRT in 2003. Whatever tool is used to conserve land, most importantly, a landowner gets the assurance of knowing that the place she loves will be cared for by the land trust and its partners forever.

Oregon’s Land Trusts

Nootka rose is one of many native plants found on lands protected by the McKenzie River Trust. Photo by Tim Giraudier – Beautiful Oregon.
From the coastal estuaries in Nehalem to the magnificent Wallowas, Oregon land trusts work to protect the unique character and beauty of our home. Together, Oregon land trusts have protected 402,523 acres of land. That is nearly four times the amount of land in the Oregon State Parks system!

In every city and town across Oregon, there is a local land trust working to protect and care for that place. Land trusts are accountable to their communities, with local people serving on their boards and volunteering to care for the land. Land trusts are non-regulatory, providing incentives for private landowners to conserve their land for the good of all Oregonians.

How the Land Trust Serves Green Island

Since we acquired Green Island, we’ve been working with many partners to restore what we call a Living River. To us that means river banks and floodplains thick with native trees, grasses, and wildflowers; a river that can meander and move and change over time. It also means clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and great opportunities for people to connect, as you are today. Thanks for being a part of such an effort, something that will long outlive us all.

Land trusts rely on community support, and McKenzie River Trust is no different. Please consider joining us as a member or volunteer today!

Invisible Rivers

In 2009, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board provided support for McKenzie River Trust to create this poster about the function and value of hyporheic zones in rivers. Hyporheic zones are river flows under and adjacent to river channels where riverwater and groundwater meet. When we protect floodplain lands like Green Island, Finn Rock, and Waite Ranch we are ensuring these hyporheic zones remain intact and healthy, providing numerous benefits for ecosystems and people.

Click the image to view full size.
Poster design by Ryan Ruggiero, MRT Land Protection Manager from 2008-2014

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.

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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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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The importance of healthy floodplains

This is part of a series about the MRT members who have played a part in the incredible comeback of Oregon chub. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll share more stories of MRT members who aided the recovery.

Art and Anita Johnson

Places protected for Oregon chub are also habitat for many other creatures like Great blue herons, red-legged frogs, and Chinook salmon.

In 2007, MRT helped members Art and Anita Johnson create a conservation easement on their 28-acre floodplain property on the lower McKenzie. The land was protected for its ideal habitat for Chinook salmon, redside rainbow trout, steelhead, and red-legged frogs. Years later, researchers found Oregon chub were also using the side channels there year-round.

As more and more people studied the chub, they learned about the interrelationship between one species and the whole web of creatures that live in the river.

“You can’t allow one species to be lost without that having an impact on other species,” says Art. “I’ve been on the McKenzie and Willamette my whole life. I knew the chub was in the river and I was very pleased that they were in that pocket of our property.”

A healthy, functioning floodplain was a major help for Oregon chub. “The recovery of the chub, to a large extent, is because of natural features,” adds Art. “The way the river moves back and forth creates harbors” for fish like chub.

Like many who have assisted in chub recovery in ways large and small, Art and Anita are humble about their role. “We don’t take any credit for [the recovery],” says Art. “It was a bit of fortune that the habitat developed right in the bends of the river.”

Scholfield Creek Wetlands Conservation Area

Public Meeting: Scholfield Creek Wetlands Conservation Area

Tuesday, May 26th at 6pm
Reedsport City Hall, 451 Winchester Ave in Reedsport

Summary: Please join us to learn more about a proposed land conservation project along Scholfield Creek near the city of Reedsport. The project will provide public conservation and recreation benefits to people in and around the area. Snacks will be provided.

   
You’re invited to learn about and comment on a proposed project just outside of Reedsport in the Umpqua estuary.

The goal of the Scholfield Creek Wetlands project is to ensure that the unique estuary wetlands just outside the City of Reedsport will provide conservation and recreation benefits for the public, on into the future.

The McKenzie River Trust, a nonprofit, non-governmental land trust, seeks to purchase +/- 215 acres of wetlands in Scholfield Creek. The wetlands are currently owned by the City of Reedsport, Douglas County, and Roseburg Resources, a subsidiary of Roseburg Forest Products.

The purchase would be funded by a state grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and a federal grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation program. Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers (PUR), a Roseburg-based non-profit, non-regulatory watershed council, would be responsible for habitat improvements and restoration.

We want to hear your thoughts and questions about the Scholfield Creek Wetlands project. Please join us for this Public Meeting!

Questions? Please contact us.

Alayna DuPont
Land Protection Manager, McKenzie River Trust
(541) 345-2799 or alayna@mckenzieriver.org

Matt Ruwaldt
Estuary Biologist, Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers
(541) 662-0049 or mruwaldt@gmail.com

Scholfield Creek Wetlands FAQ

What are the goals for this project?

McKenzie River Trust seeks to purchase the Scholfield Creek wetlands to protect an important community area for its fish and wildlife habitat, open space, and recreational values. Our long term vision is that the unique wetlands of Scholfield Creek that you value today will be there for your grandchildren’s grandchildren.

What public benefits will the project provide?

This project will provide conservation benefits, recreational benefits, and community benefits. By protecting the wetlands today, Reedsport residents and visitors will be able to enjoy and appreciate this area now and on into the future.

The Scholfield Creek wetlands are the nurseries for healthy fish in the Umpqua River. Coho and Chinook salmon and sea run cutthroat trout rely on the rich estuary habitat of Scholfield Creek for summer rearing and winter refuge. Clean water also comes from healthy wetlands. Like sponges, the wetlands absorb, store, and release water. They provide a buffer against flooding by absorbing and retaining high water levels.

The Scholfield Creek wetlands provide Reedsport residents and visitors with dozens of recreational opportunities, from duck hunting to bird watching, photography, and kayaking. Scholfield Creek is open for cutthroat trout fishing, and because other valuable fish like Chinook and coho use these areas, the wetlands are also beneficial to recreational and commercial fishing in the surrounding areas. Healthy fisheries that are supported by the wetlands provide benefits to local fishing businesses.

Why is now a good time to make this project happen?

The project fits with the City of Reedsport’s vision for recreation and conservation surrounding the city. Planning efforts for the Reedsport Levee Loop Trail and Water Trail show that there is a lot of interest in increasing recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. The opportunity for a project like this that advances a community vision for conservation of an important area for fish, wildlife, and recreation does not happen every day.

Who will benefit from this project? How?

Across Oregon, the angling community, including commercial fisheries, increasingly recognizes the value of estuary lands for the health of fisheries. Maintaining healthy estuaries benefits both commercial and recreational anglers, because wetlands are the nurseries of strong fish populations. Local businesses also benefit from these activities: examples include fishing boats along the Oregon coast, the local port, Reedsport river guides and outfitters, upstream recreational guides on the Umpqua River, and more.

Beyond anglers, MRT is committed to working with the City, neighbors, and the entire Reedsport community to explore development of the Water Trail and other recreational opportunities that are appropriate. We are committed to working with the City to maintain a healthy wetlands that can be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone.

Where does the money come from for this project?

McKenzie River Trust and the Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers have secured funding for this project through two competitive grant applications. A grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) will be applied towards the land purchase. OWEB is a state agency that provides grants to help Oregonians take care of local streams, rivers, wetlands and natural areas. OWEB grants are funded from the Oregon Lottery, federal dollars, and salmon license plate revenue. We have also been awarded a federal grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Program. After a national competition, 25 wetlands projects were awarded funding in 2015, including the Scholfield Creek Wetlands project. The Coastal Wetlands grant funds come from taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters nationwide.

Some of the land that is proposed to be sold is publicly owned right now. Why should a private land trust own that land?

The McKenzie River Trust’s mission is to help people protect and care for the lands and rivers they cherish in western Oregon. As an independent, community-based nonprofit 501c3 organization operated for the public benefit, we will ensure that this land is owned and managed for conservation, no matter what changes in the future. We are in it for the long run.

The McKenzie River Trust was founded in 1989 and has completed conservation projects on over 4,000 acres of land from the Cascades to the coast. MRT is an Accredited Land Trust. Independent accreditation ensures all our lands will be protected forever.

Why are the City of Reedsport, Douglas County, and Roseburg Resources considering selling this land?

Roseburg Resources originally approached MRT, because they consider the wetlands to be unproductive timberland. They realized that this unique part of Scholfield Creek could be better stewarded by a different owner, one with a conservation mission, like MRT. The City of Reedsport and Douglas County became interested in the project because they saw the potential for this kind of a project and partnership to bring more resources to their communities. This transaction is also a way for the City and County to ensure that the wetlands are cared for in line with the community’s interests without having to be responsible for the long term management of the land. All three sellers will be paid for the land they sell.

What will happen to the land once it is sold to the McKenzie River Trust?

MRT will work with the Reedsport community to ensure that the land will be managed for its long term conservation and recreation benefits. In the coming years, the Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers will also enhance the health of the wetlands through on-the-ground projects.

What kind of work is the Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers proposing to do in the wetlands?

PUR is working with estuary science experts to develop a plan to ensure that the Scholfield Creek wetlands ecosystem is as productive and healthy as possible. After assessing the needs of the wetlands, PUR will begin taking actions to enhance the habitat of the land by increasing estuary complexity. Estuary complexity is very important for wetlands. For example, historically, there would have likely been more woody debris in the Scholfield wetlands than there is today. Enhancement work that adds more woody debris now can provide overhead cover for native fish that use the wetlands. Woody debris also makes the tidal channels more complex, provides habitat for bugs and other macroinvertebrates that contribute to wetland health, and offers nurse logs for spruce trees and native shrubs to grow. Habitat enhancements like these can make the area a more appealing place for native birds, insects, fish, beavers, and more.

Who is part of the project team? What experience do they bring to the project? Do they have any connection to the local area?

The McKenzie River Trust team includes Alayna DuPont, Land Protection Manager, and Joe Moll, Executive Director. Alayna and Joe both bring many years of experience in conservation land transactions, including large-scale, complex transactions with multiple owners. Alayna has been with MRT since January 2015, and Joe has been with the organization since 2005. Both are trail runners and avid outdoors-people. Although this is MRT’s first project in the Reedsport area, we do have other projects on the coast near Mapleton and Yachats.

The Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers team includes Matt Ruwaldt, Estuary Biologist, and Eric Riley, Executive Director. Matt and Eric have over 25 years combined experience in science-based conservation in communities in Oregon and beyond. Matt has been with PUR since 2009, and Eric has been with the organization since 2007. Matt and his family are Florence residents and Eric lives in Roseburg.

I have more questions about this project. Who should I call?

  • Alayna DuPont Land Protection Manager, McKenzie River Trust: (541) 345-2799 or alayna@mckenzieriver.org
  • Matt Ruwaldt Estuary Biologist, Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers: (541) 662-0049 or mruwaldt@gmail.com

   

McKenzie floodplain forest will be home to fish and wildlife forever

Thank you for protecting habitat!


Because of you,
the abundant fish of the lower McKenzie River will thrive. Another critical piece of their habitat is protected!

In January, after years of negotiation and due diligence work, we purchased Chub Slough, a 34-acre property on the lower McKenzie River. Chub Slough adds to a network of complex, dynamic habitats across several hundred acres of floodplain land on the lower McKenzie.

Located nearby the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area and Bellinger Boat Landing, Chub Slough’s intact floodplain forest habitat adds to the “string of pearls” in this area. Within this network of conserved lands, healthy populations of Oregon chub, Chinook salmon, pond turtles, and red-legged frogs thrive – all thanks to your support.

Chub Slough also contains high value farmland. MRT is exploring ways this land might be enhanced and used in conjunction with the McKenzie Watershed Council and EWEB’s Healthy Farms Clean Water Program.

What’s in a name?

Oregon chub are a tiny minnow found only in the clean rivers of the Willamette Valley. After Oregon chub were placed on the Endangered Species List in the 1990s, the McKenzie River Trust came together with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners, and many other partners to take actions to protect habitat and create safe harbors for this unique fish.

On February 17, 2015, Oregon chub made history by being the first fish ever to be removed from the Endangered Species List due to recovery. The Chub Slough property contains such incredible habitat for Oregon chub that we had to name it after them.

Special thanks

Chub Slough was protected thanks to the support from people like you. The McKenzie Watershed Council 412 Fund and EWEB’s Drinking Water Source Protection Program, and Meyer Memorial Trust also provided grants for this project.