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.
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.
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.
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.
Brewers to create drinkable portraits of protected lands
Beers Made By Walking, a program that invites brewers to go on nature hikes and make beer inspired by plants found on the trail, is partnering with McKenzie River Trust for a series of three walks this summer and a beer-tasting fundraiser in the fall.
Beers Made By Walking invites brewers and interested community members to go on nature hikes guided by local conservation and plant experts. Brewers attending the hikes are challenged to create a unique hike-inspired beer that serves as a drinkable, landscape portrait of the trails that are walked.
The resulting beers will be served at a special event on November 5th at The Bier Stein, and proceeds from the beers will benefit the McKenzie River Trust. Partnering breweries/cideries in the Eugene/Springfield area include Claim 52 Brewing, Elk Horn Brewery, Agrarian Ales, Oakshire Brewing, Falling Sky Brewing, Viking Braggot Company, and WildCraft Cider Works.
Hike on the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area
Thursday, June 4 from 6 to 8 pm – Register now!
This Beers Made by Walking tour explores the riparian forest and field edges of Berggren along the lower McKenzie River, a special place where farming and conservation come together. This tour will be guided by Jared Pruch, coordinator for the Berggren Demonstration Farm and joined by brewers from Claim 52, Elk Horn Brewery, Falling Sky Brewing, and Viking Braggot Company.
Hike on Green Island during the Living River Celebration
Saturday, June 27, time TBA – Get more info
As part of the Living River Celebration, come and explore a natural area just 15 minutes from downtown Eugene. Green Island is McKenzie River Trust’s largest property and an ecologically diverse river system. The Living River Celebration will feature music, refreshments, and is family friendly event. This tour will be one of many offered during the day. It will be guided by Jenny Getty and hikers will be joined by brewers from Agrarian Ales and Oakshire Brewing.
Hike at the Hagens’ Confluence Farm on Ferguson Creek
Thursday, July 30 from 6 to 8 pm – Get more info
This Beers Made By Walking tour explores Trey and Tammie Hagen’s family land near Monroe. Visit the intact, meandering section of Ferguson Creek that runs through the property, as well as the hay fields and blueberry patches of Confluence Farm, the Hagens’ berry operation. Located in the Pacific Flyway, one of several major routes across North America for migrating waterfowl, this walk will take hikers back in time to a homestead in the early settlement days of the Willamette Valley. The tour will be guided by plant and ethnobotany expert Heiko Koester and joined by brewers from Planktown Brewing and WildCraft Cider Works.
Beers Made By Walking Release Party at The Bier Stein
Thursday, November 5 from 5 to 8 pm – Get more info
Taste the beers made by walking on MRT lands! Mark your calendars for this party at the Bier Stein, where you can meet the all the participating brewers and sample the unique beers inspired by the hikes. A portion of proceeds from this event will be donated to the McKenzie River Trust.
This post is part of a series of profiles of McKenzie River Trust members. Have an idea for a member spotlight? Contact Jules Abbott, Membership and Outreach Coordinator: jules (at) mckenzieriver (dot) org.
Member Spotlight: Steve Gordon
Steve Gordon vividly remembers the day that would change the course of his life.
A fifth-generation Oregonian, Steve is an avid birder, dragonfly expert, and McKenzie River Trust member, among many other pursuits.
That day, as he sat in a business meeting, he noticed a dragonfly land on a flower outside the window.
“I sketched the dragonfly and the wing pattern,” Steve recalled. “[After the meeting] I went to find out what species the dragonfly was and noticed it was difficult to find a field guide.”
Steve began to hunt for dragonfly guides and groups in Oregon. He discovered a survey website that listed Oregonians who were interested in dragonflies. Steve noticed an acquaintance, Cary Kerst, on the list. He got in touch, and over coffee, they decided to take a field trip. Soon after, they ventured into the west Eugene wetlands to learn about and identify new dragonfly species.
“We probably spent three years working on it. I think Cary discovered six or seven new species of insects, and together, we added a new dragonfly to the Oregon list.”
Now, Steve supports McKenzie River Trust by leading dragonfly field trips, participating on the lands committee, and advising the board on acquisitions. He’s also a member.
“McKenzie River Trust is good for my heart and soul,” Steve said. “It’s the accumulation of preserved sites that really starts to make a difference on the landscape. In 10 years, you’ll be able to see a ribbon of connective pieces starting to form. I think at that point you really do have an impact on the landscape.”
Steve believes that his support of McKenzie River Trust will help ensure that Oregon continues to be a wonderful place to live ages from now. With Steve’s help, his great-grandchildren — future eighth-generation Oregonians! — will still have plenty of natural areas to enjoy.
Do you want to join Steve on his next Dragonfly tour? Sign up for the McKenzie River Trust email list to hear about new tours and other ways to explore our protected landscapes. Enter your email address in the upper right corner of our website to sign up for e-news.
McKenzie River Trust Invites the Community to Explore
10 Years of Habitat Conservation on Property Near Eugene
[EUGENE, ORE.] When you picture re-forestation in Oregon, you might imagine the cool mountains of the Cascades or Coast range. But a different kind of re-forestation has been steadily enhancing native habitat on the Willamette Valley floor for the past 8 years, much closer to Eugene than you may know. With the Living River Celebration: 10 Years on Green Island from 7am to 5pm on Saturday, June 29, the McKenzie River Trust invites the community to explore this special place just 15 minutes from downtown Eugene or Springfield.
Green Island is located at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers just west of Coburg, OR. Since 2006, the McKenzie River Trust has been undertaking an ambitious habitat restoration project on the property, planting tens of thousands of trees, removing barriers to floodplain connectivity, and enhancing side channels of the Willamette and historic McKenzie rivers. The restoration has already provided benefits to Chinook salmon, Red-legged frogs, Western Meadowlarks, and many more native species.
Ten years ago, the McKenzie River Trust was able to purchase 865 acres of land from the Green family, who had a vision for a restored natural area on farmland that was subject to flooding. Funding for the purchase was provided by the Bonneville Power Administration and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program, Eugene Water and Electric Board, US Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and individual supporters of the Trust.
Today, the Green Island habitat complex measures nearly 1,100 acres thanks to additional land transactions that have expanded the conserved area.
The McKenzie River Trust frequently hosts small tours and volunteer events on the land, but for the Living River Celebration on Saturday, June 29, an array of offerings will greet visitors interested in nature. “Many people have helped us plant trees, pull weeds, and learn about this place over the last ten years,” says Joe Moll, McKenzie River Trust Executive Director. “While enjoying a walkabout, music, canoeing, tree climbing, and a picnic beside two of our community’s great rivers at the Living River Celebration, you can see some of the changes that have occurred thanks to that support, and help us think about the next ten years of work to be done.”
The Living River Celebration is sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. The event is free and family friendly. Gates will open at 7am and close at 5pm. The full day of activities on the land includes:
Exploring nearly 7 miles of trails. Points of interest throughout the Island will tell the story of this special place where wildflowers bloom, salmon hide, turtles bask, and volunteers plant trees, restoring the floodplain forest.
Free guided walks all day. Choices include: early morning Bird Walks, an Ethnobotany Walk, two Green Island Restoration Tours, an Amphibian and Reptile Walk with Dr. Tom Titus, a Dragonfly & Damselfly Walk with Cary Kerst, a Nature Tour with Bruce Newhouse and Peg Boulay, and a Native Plant and Herb Walk with Mountain Rose Herbs.
Canoeing and Kayaking: Explore a bit of a historic McKenzie River channel on the water. Try paddling a canoe or kayak for free, offered by Oregon Paddle Sports.
Tree Climbing: Get a bird’s-eye view by climbing up into a cedar tree with the experts from the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute.
Music: The Blue McKenzie (11am-12pm) acoustic trio returns to Green Island. Then from 1-3pm, The Whiskey Chasers will bring their bluegrass-old-time-country, grassytonk-dance-stomp to the stage.
Oakshire Brewing will join in the celebration by serving their Watershed IPA. Through Oakshire’s 1% for Watersheds program, the brewery is donating 1% of all sales of Watershed IPA in the Southern Willamette Valley in 2013 to the McKenzie River Trust.
Food: Sammitch Food Cart will serve up their unique local fare. So Delicious Dairy Free will also be giving away frozen treats. Or you can bring your own picnic. You can also fill up your water bottle with fresh water from McKenzie Mist.
Booths: Learn about the history of Green Island, the work of the McKenzie River Trust, partner organizations and lots more at The Hub’s educational booths. Booths include: McKenzie River Trust; McKenzie Watershed Council; Long Tom Watershed Council; Siuslaw Watershed Council; Middle Fork Watershed Council; Mountain Rose Herbs; Eugene Water and Electric Board; Terra Tech; McKenzie River History with the University of Oregon Environmental Leadership Program and McKenzie River Mobile Museum; Hands-On Nature with David Walp’s amazing touch & feel mammal specimen collection; and Karma’s Forest Native Nursery with examples of the native plants used to restore Green Island’s habitat.
About the McKenzie River Trust:
The mission of the McKenzie River Trust (MRT) is to protect and care for special lands and the rivers the flow through them in western Oregon. Formed in 1989, MRT is committed to a future in which intact, functioning ecosystems provide clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and productive natural landscapes throughout western Oregon. In the year 2000, MRT expanded its service area from a focus solely on the McKenzie watershed, the source of Eugene and Springfield’s drinking water. Today, MRT works in the watersheds of the McKenzie, Long Tom, Upper Willamette, Coast and Middle Forks of the Willamette, Umpqua, Siuslaw, and coastal streams and lakes from Reedsport to Yachats. Throughout its history, MRT has worked with landowners and diverse partnerships to protect, forever, over 3,650 acres of special lands in western Oregon. Green Island, a 1,100-acre property at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, is MRT’s largest protected property.
Get your boots on the ground and your hands dirty volunteering with the McKenzie River Trust’s Green Island Project Manager Chris Vogel. Help care for this unique site. You’ll mulch trees that need protection from the summer heat while learning more about habitat restoration.
Join dragonfly experts Steven Gordon and Cary Kerst for an afternoon field course on dragonflies and damselflies. Learn about the life cycle, preferred habitat, and behavior of these fascinating creatures who call Green Island home.
Explore Waite Ranch and the Duncan Island Conservation Easement, conservation lands protected by the McKenzie River Trust between Florence and Mapleton, from a kayak. We’ll spend the day on the Siuslaw Estuary, led by an expert guide from Oregon Paddle Sports. Good physical condition and moderate kayaking experience is required.
Get your boots on the ground and your hands dirty volunteering with the McKenzie River Trust’s Green Island Stewardship Technician Dane Moeggenberg and Project Manager Chris Vogel. Help care for this unique site. You’ll build browse protectors for trees planted in the northeast section of the island near the historic McKenzie River channel.
The extensive, intact wetland habitats of the Coyote Spencer Wetlands are home to an impressive variety of native plants. Learn more about them during our upcoming guided tour of the 161-acre property near Eugene.
Join the McKenzie River Trust and Native Plant Society of Oregon for a tour of native flora on the Coyote Spencer Wetlands. We’ll explore late-blooming wildflowers in the emergent wetlands and wet prairie fields, and the understories of the extensive oak and ash forests. As time allows, we’ll visit populations of several rare and sensitive plant that are present on this site, including Bradshaw’s lomatium and Oregon peavine. Located just 5 miles southwest of Hwy 126, upstream of Fern Ridge Reservoir, this protected property is a conservation jewel in Eugene’s backyard.
Get outside! Our guided tours are a great way to learn about the natural world, meet our staff and Board members, and experience the McKenzie River Trust’s protected landscapes for yourself. Tours are guided by community experts in natural history, native plants, birds, and other areas of interest, along with McKenzie River Trust staff. Tours are free, and they’re open to friends old and new. Please join us by signing up today!
Tours are generally limited to 15 people, and they often fill quickly! If a tour is full, please contact Liz at 541-345-2799 or llawrence (at) mckenzieriver.org and we will gladly add you to the wait list.
For volunteer opportunities, community events, and other ways to get involved with the McKenzie River Trust, visit our Events page.
Grab your camera! This springtime tour of the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area‘s farm fields and floodplain forest offers something for photographers of all levels. From the birds overhead, to the flowers blooming at your feet, to pastoral farm fields and the flowing backwater channels of the McKenzie River, this 92-acre landscape will give you plenty to explore and enjoy. Your camera is welcome on any of our tours, but this one will provide a special chance to get the perfect shot. Your pictures will show a landscape at the intersection of conservation and farming. Continue reading “Picturing Birds and Buds: Photo Tour”→
Join the McKenzie River Trust, Native Plant Society of Oregon and Lane County Parks to explore riparian forest and upland prairie plants on a tour of the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area and neighboring Vickery Park. We begin at the Berggren property, touring the farm fields and riparian area with an eye to habitat restoration. Pause for a BYO bag lunch by the McKenzie River, then continue on to the undeveloped and relatively pristine Vickery County Park next door. This riverside park of 80 acres covers a steep, rocky hillside. Diverse habitats include oak savanna and dense forest.