Connect with the Land

Connect with the Land

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!

Upcoming Tours

Saturday, April 28, 1 – 4pm: Spring at Hollyer Prairie
Saturday, May 5, 10am – 2pm: Native Plants of the Lower McKenzie
Thursday, May 17, 8am – 11am: Birds of Green Island
Saturday, May 19, 9am – 12pm: Picturing Birds and Buds – Photo Tour of the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area

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) 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.


Picturing Birds and Buds: Photo Tour

Saturday, May 19th from 9am to 12pm

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”

Native Plants of the Lower McKenzie

Saturday, May 5 from 10am to 2pm

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.

Register here for Native Plants of the Lower McKenzie

Spring at Hollyer Prairie

Saturday, April 28 from 1 to 4pm

The 59-acre Hollyer Prairie Conservation Easement includes many natural wonders: upland and wet prairie, oak savanna and woodland, riparian forest, and even a population of rare lupines!  Come on an afternoon exploration of the property with landowner Helen Hollyer and naturalists Peg Boulay and Bruce Newhouse to uncover some secrets of spring. We’ll look for flowers on the lupines, camas and lomatium in the wetlands, and migrating songbirds in the forest — as well as anything else that catches group interest. This is a unique opportunity to see a wide variety of habitats on private property on upper Camas Swale Creek.

Register here for Spring at Hollyer Prairie

Two Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

We have two great events happening on Earth Day weekend, and we hope you can join us!

Volunteer on Green Island

Saturday, April 21 from 9:30am to 12:30pm

We’re hosting volunteer groups at least once a month on Green Island this spring and summer, and one of our volunteer days happens to fall on Earth Day weekend! Get outside, and do something good for the earth. Help plant and care for native trees and shrubs on our largest protected property on the mainstem of the Willamette River just west of Coburg. Your advance RSVP is requested. Get more information and sign up here.

14th Annual Earth Day Celebration at EWEB’s Rivers Edge Plaza

Saturday, April 21 from 11am to 5pm

We’re once again joining the Earth Day celebration! Visit with MRT staff and Board members, check out maps of the places where we work, and pick up an MRT sticker, bookmark, and a copy of our latest newsletter when you visit our booth.

And join us at 3:20 pm on the main stage, when Oakshire Brewing will present MRT with a check for the proceeds from the sale of three special release Brewer’s Reserve Series Beers developed in 2011. These beers were created to celebrate the Eugene Water and Electric Board‘s centennial year of service providing the clean water that MRT protects and Oakshire uses as a key ingredient in their products. Proceeds from the sales of the beers benefit the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area.

March 22nd: Volunteer on Green Island!

Lend A Hand!

Whether you share our fond memories of large-scale volunteer plantings on Green Island in years past, or you’re a new friend of the McKenzie River Trust and have never had the chance to experience this amazing landscape, we’re excited to invite you to connect with the land.

Get your boots on the ground and your hands dirty as you join your fellow McKenzie River Trust supporters and Chris Vogel, Green Island Project Manager to volunteer.

March 22nd Volunteer Work Party on Green Island
9:30 am to 12:30 pm

RSVP Required. Click here to register.

Located just below the confluence of the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers, Green Island is the McKenzie River Trust’s largest protected property at more than 1,000 acres. Abundant floodplain forest, backwater sloughs, and multiple channels of the mainstem Willamette await you.

Can’t make it on March 22nd? Join us for a volunteer work party on Green Island on Saturday, April 21st or Thursday, May 3rd!

Coyote Spencer Wetlands Protected

McKenzie River Trust Protects Scenic, Regionally Important Wetlands Near Eugene

The Coyote Spencer Wetlands, 161 acres of high functioning wetland habitat in the Long Tom Watershed, were protected by the McKenzie River Trust on March 1, 2012.

(EUGENE, OR) The McKenzie River Trust announces the protection of the Coyote Spencer Wetlands, 161 acres of regionally important native habitat about 5 miles southwest of Eugene. The land trust purchased the property to protect its extraordinary wetlands, plant and animal diversity, and the scenic backdrop it provides along Crow Road.

Located where Coyote and Spencer Creeks come together in the Long Tom River Watershed, the Coyote Spencer Wetlands contain over three miles of streams and 158 acres of mixed forest and wet meadows. Its wildflower displays and oak and ash forests also help define a route that has become popular for wine-country driving tours and recreational cyclists.

“The Coyote Spencer Wetlands site has long been identified as a conservation priority by the West Eugene Wetlands Partnership, now expanded as the Rivers to Ridges Partnership,” notes Eric Wold, Natural Resources Manager for the City of Eugene. “The McKenzie River Trust has added to a regional network of protected lands that contribute not only to the health of our ecosystems, but also to the livability of our local communities.”

“Protecting wetlands was a key focus for us in this landscape,” notes McKenzie River Trust Land Protection Manager Ryan Ruggiero, who brokered the acquisition. “Wetlands are integral to healthy ecosystems because they filter sediments from water and provide habitat for numerous fish and wildlife species.” Sometimes called the ‘nurseries of nature’ and compared to coral reefs or rainforests for the diversity of life that they support, wetlands are exceptionally productive ecosystems. Wetlands offer nesting or feeding grounds to more than half of all North American bird species and provide a home for an estimated 31% of all plant species.

Between 1994 and 2005, the Willamette Valley saw a net loss of 3,932 acres of wetlands. In the Long Tom Watershed, a significant percentage of wetlands were historically converted to agricultural use. Large, intact expanses of wetlands, such those that make up the Coyote Spencer Wetlands, are increasingly rare, showing what the historic, pre-European settlement landscape in the Willamette Valley may have looked like. Permanently protecting remaining wetlands like this can enhance stream water quality, buffer floods, and provide an essential home and refuge for an array of native plants and animals. Rare native plants including Bradshaw’s lomatium, Oregon delphinium and thin-leaved peavine have been identified on the property.

The property is also known locally as a well-traveled wildlife corridor where bear, mountain lion, bobcat, deer, and elk have been seen. Sensitive fish and wildlife species also known in the area include vesper sparrow, white-breasted nuthatch, western bluebird, northern harrier, cutthroat trout, red-legged frog, and northwestern pond turtle.

The McKenzie River Trust was uniquely poised to protect the Coyote Spencer Wetlands. “Having a local champion was essential to protect these high-quality wetlands,” notes Dana Hicks of the Oregon Department of State Lands. “The McKenzie River Trust’s long term vision for stewardship will help ensure the wetland values and functions that exist on the land now will continue forever.” The McKenzie River Trust will host public tours and volunteer events on the Coyote Spencer Wetlands property, making it available to local school, university, and research partners as a reference site for education and scientific research into wetland health and restoration.

Since 1989, the McKenzie River Trust has acquired property and voluntary conservation easements through donation or purchase on over 3,500 acres in eight different watersheds across Lane and Douglas Counties. Working with private willing landowners, the nonprofit group takes on the responsibility of ensuring that the land and its conservation values will be protected forever. For more information about the McKenzie River Trust, visit

Grant funding and project support was provided by Oregon Department of State Lands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Long Tom Watershed Council, and the Rivers to Ridges Partnership.

Press Contact: Ryan Ruggiero
Land Protection Manager
McKenzie River Trust