Lessons from the River

By Barry Lopez

This essay to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act first appeared in the Patagonia November 2018 Journal. Reprinted with the author’s permission.

Only with our patient attention will a river open itself up to us. The McKenzie rushes past Finn Rock Reach near Blue River, Oregon. Photo by Tim Giraudier – Beautiful Oregon.

Within 24 hours of noon on September 17, in any given year, spring chinook salmon arrive on gravel bars in front of my home to spawn. The females dig their redds, the males fertilize the eggs, and then both breathe their last. I’ve watched this event for 48 consecutive years on the middle reach of the McKenzie River in western Oregon. Each year I wait for the reassurance they bring, that even though things abstract and concrete are looking bad everywhere in the world, these fish are carrying on. If the salmon don’t arrive by the evening of the 17th, I walk down through the woods to stand in the dark and listen for them. I know most all the sounds this river makes, and there is no other sound like their caudal fins breaking the surface of the water as they mill. If I hear them, then I know things are good for this particular strain of salmon for at least another three years. If I don’t hear them, I toss and turn through a sleepless night and go down to look first thing in the morning.

They always arrive. I’ve never had to wait more than a few hours.

Much of what I know about integrity, constancy, power and nobility I’ve learned from this river, just as I’ve learned the opposite of these things—impotency, fecklessness, imprisonment—by walking across the dam on Blue River, a tributary of the McKenzie, and by standing on Cougar Dam on the river’s South Fork, another tributary. I stare at the reservoirs from the tops of these dams and see the stillness of the impoundments. The absence of freedom there.

I couldn’t say that I knew the McKenzie after my first year here. I had to nearly drown in it once, trying to swim across from bank to bank one day and dangerously misjudging the strength of the river’s flow. I had to watch a black bear wade through a patch of redds, biting through the spines of the adults. I had to come into the habit of walking its stony bed upstream and downstream, in daylight and at midnight, bracing myself with a hiker’s pole and calculating each slippery step, the water vibrating the pole in my hand like a bowstring and breaking hard over my thighs. I had to see how the surface of the river changed during a rainstorm, with the peening rain filling in the troughs and hammering down the crests. I had to become more than just acquainted with the phenomenon. I had to study beaver felling alders in its back eddies, great blue herons stab-fishing its shallows and lunging otters snatching its cutthroat trout. I had to understand the violet-green swallow swooping through rising hatches, and the ouzel flying blind through a water-fall. I had to watch elk swimming in the river at dusk. But still, I can’t say I know it.

As I showed continuing interest in the McKenzie over the years, the river opened up for me. I began to feel toward it as I would a person. I learned that it had emotions and moods as subtle as any animal’s. And I learned that, in some strange way, the river had become a part of me. When I was away traveling I missed it, the way you miss a close friend.

Chinook salmon at Finn Rock Reach - photo by Tim Giraudier, Beautiful Oregon
As integral to the river as water itself, the spring chinook salmon — threatened and dwindling in number — are a harbinger of the health of the McKenzie, and in turn, our own. Photo by Tim Giraudier – Beautiful Oregon.

The first river I developed any strong feeling for was a stretch of the Snake that winds through Jackson Hole. In 1965 I was working a summer there in Wyoming, wrangling horses and packing people into the Teton Wilderness. Some afternoons when I was free I volunteered as a swamper on float trips, eager to get a feeling for the undulation of that water. Since then I’ve been able to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho, the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, the upper Yukon in Alaska and the Green in Utah, gaining from them experience with more formidable water. I’ve since seen rivers far from home, like the Urubamba in Peru, perhaps the wildest river, in terms of its miles of continuous commotion, that I’ve ever stood before. And I visited some way-far-off rivers like the Onyx, a name that brings a wrinkled brow to every river rat I’ve ever mentioned it to.

The Onyx, Antarctica’s largest river, flows for only a few months in the austral summer, from the base of the Wright Lower Glacier in the Wright Valley to perennially frozen Lake Vanda. During a week I spent there once, at New Zealand’s Vanda Station on the shore of the lake, I decided to hike a few miles of the river’s north bank, wishing keenly all the while that I had a kayak. The Onyx is about 30 feet across and a foot deep, and it runs flat. A little bit of experience with the Onyx, though, helps you grasp the breadth of meaning behind the term “wild river.” The designation includes everything from the virtually unrunnable, like the Urubamba, to pristine but tame rivers, like the Onyx. I’ve also spent time in the thrall of another, singular type of wild river—ones that are perfectly runnable but that have gone, in my lifetime, from being virtually unknown to being popular destinations.

In the boreal summer of 1979, I was camped on the upper Utukok River, on the north slope of the Brooks Range in western Alaska. A wolf pack denning in a cutbank there interested my friend Bob Stephenson, a wolf biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and me. We’d set up our tent on a rise on the opposite side of the river, about 500 yards away. During the week we spent there, we not only saw no person except the bush pilot who brought us in, but also no evidence of anything from the man-made world. A tundra grizzly had torn up a ground squirrel’s burrow 20 yards from the tent just before we arrived. We watched wolves hunting every day. We saw gyrfalcons, snow buntings, horned larks and jaegers on their nests. One night, 30 or so caribou crossed the river in front of us at a run, throwing up great sheets of water—diamonds backlit by a late-night sun.

When Bob died last year, we held a memorial service for him in Fairbanks, and I caught up with a retired biologist I’d known at the department who told me that commercial float trips now take people regularly down the Utukok. It’s certainly a wild river, providing an unforgettable experience for adventurers, some of whom have become river activists as a result. To my way of thinking, however, the Utukok is not so wild now as it was when we were camped there 40 years ago, when the country, for as far as you could see, belonged to the animals.

Home from some trip and back here on the banks of the McKenzie, I always feel that I’ve come back together again as a person. In spring, when I notice the first few flowers blooming in the riparian zone—trillium, yellow violet, purple grouse flower, deer’s head orchid—I’m aware of similar changes in myself. I’ve lived here long enough now—intimate with the McKenzie’s low- and high- water stages, its winter colors, its harlequin ducks, its log jams, and aerial plankton (tens of thousands of spiders “balloon drifting” in summer on breezes above the river)—to know that without this river I’m less. Listening to osprey strike the river, watching common mergansers shooting past me at 60 miles an hour, a foot off the water, hearing the surging wind roiling the leaves of black cottonwoods close around me, I become whole again.

Many people, I have to think, have wilder and more inspiring stories to tell than I do about illuminating and staggering moments spent with a wild river. I have to believe, though, that we all share equally a love for the great range of expression this particular kind of being offers us, whether we’re with it in the moment or must call up remembered feelings from former encounters. And, of course, today we all share a fate with them, during these days of the Sixth Extinction; and we know how late it is in human history to finally be thinking about protecting rivers.

We’re only just now getting started with it. Congress passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968, 50 years ago this year. The bill was designed to protect eight different rivers from development—among them, the Middle Fork of the Clearwater in Idaho, the Eleven Point in Missouri and the Middle Fork of the Feather in California. In 1988, after another 27 rivers had slowly been incorporated into the system, Oregon passed an omnibus river bill that added another 40 rivers, including the McKenzie, each one with designated stretches of “wild,” “scenic” and “recreational” water, and each one of these sections subject to increasingly stricter levels of management. Today, there are 208 wild and scenic rivers across 40 states—12,743 miles of protected river water. It’s a paltry sum, actually, less than a quarter of 1 percent of the nation’s river miles. But each year our understanding of the nature of this kind of planetary lifeblood grows deeper. As more land trusts come into being, like the McKenzie River Trust here, the number of champions and custodians grows larger.

Fishing the McKenzie River at Finn Rock Reach, Photo by Tim Giraudier, Beautiful Oregon
Anglers in a drift boat float through the Finn Rock Reach on the McKenzie River in western Oregon. Photo by Tim Giraudier – Beautiful Oregon.

Over the years, I’ve learned much about the McKenzie that is obvious and much that is subtle. On this waterway that supplies the city of Eugene with virtually all of its drinking water, for example, state and federal agencies have cooperated to protect bull trout and to restore the spring chinook salmon run on the upper South Fork of the river. And for subtlety, I would offer you obsidian tools buried in the river’s riparian zone, evidence I’ve found of the very early presence of people here, some of it from before the days of the historic occupants, the Kalapuya and Molalla, tribes who traveled to the upper McKenzie in the summer to gather a great profusion of berries—blackberries, salmonberries, huckleberries, elderberries, osoberries and thimbleberries (all of which remain a priority today for local residents and others to gather).

The goal for most of us on the McKenzie today is not simply to protect the physical river from miscreants by implementing various layers of necessary regulation from ridgeline to ridgeline, but to revitalize and protect the entire community associated with the river. To help all who are interested understand that this river began its life long before human beings arrived, and that the wildness it offers us all can still be accessed, engaged and offered to our children. We’re living today, of course, in a time of true political, social and environmental upheaval and growing threat. You can select living creatures like rivers, if you choose, and take your stand with them to ensure your own future and the future of other beings. It’s a good place to be with your friends and your family, as the growing shadows blanket our skies.

On September 17, 2018, I will go down to the river and wait. I will watch for sun-light gleaming on the salmon’s caudal fins, standing proud of the surface of the water in the river’s shallows. I will smell them on the evening air and watch the males converge on the females, shouldering each other out of the way. And I will concentrate on this thought: If I do not help them to keep doing this, my days too are numbered.

About Barry Lopez

Barry Lopez, photo by David Liitschwager
Photo by David Liitschwager

Lopez is the author of Arctic Dreams, which won the National Book Award, and over a dozen other works of fiction and nonfiction. He writes regularly for Harper’s, Outside and numerous other journals. His next book, Horizon, will be released by Penguin Random House in March, 2019. Lopez has lived near Finn Rock since 1969. He served as the honorary chair of the McKenzie Homewaters Campaign.

Member Spotlight: XS Media

The Shire for the River campaign continues through October 26! Your gift goes twice as far with over $12,000 available in matching funds from local tech businesses. Every day, we will share the story of one campaign supporter.

Stephen Parac, COO of XS Media, shares why he supports McKenzie River Trust.

Stephen Parac shares why he supports McKenzie River Trust

Stephen is COO of XS Media, one of nine Silicon Shire technology companies offering matching dollars for this year’s Shire for the River campaign.

Why do you support McKenzie River Trust?

We all live in Oregon for a reason. We have many roots and we have family here. But ultimately, it’s a choice to live in this community, and we’re really blessed to be at the convergence of the McKenzie and Willamette.

What about McKenzie River Trust’s mission appeals to you?

I fell in love with what McKenzie River Trust does for our community. It felt like a calling, and it was something that I couldn’t ignore. It’s the water that we drink. Keeping it clean and preserved is really important. And McKenzie River Trust does so much more. They also take care of the areas around the water streams, do restoration work, build access with boat landings and more. I’ve taken advantage of hiking and watched salmon spawning, and those are the things that McKenzie River Trust protects.

How does McKenzie River Trust’s work impact you as a business owner?

As a business owner, you think about ways to have an impact, and of course, also about how to best serve your employees. We have people who like to fish on the McKenzie and hike on the McKenzie and just drive down the McKenzie. It’s so beautiful. Our employees are very passionate about doing restoration work. It’s a community-building experience for our own organization and it helps us bond with one another.

What do you wish people knew about McKenzie River Trust?

McKenzie River Trust does a lot of large real estate transactions. The goal is to preserve as much of that riverfront property as possible and return it to healthy conditions to help our water source and the wildlife. I would encourage anybody who’s interested in the outdoors to go visit Finn Rock, walk the trails, and look at the McKenzie. I think that they will fall in love with it like I have—and like so many of our employees have.

Join us!

Give now to the Shire for the River campaign by visiting the campaign website on Crowdrise, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Suite 270, Eugene, OR 97401. You can also donate over the phone by calling the McKenzie River Trust offices at (541) 345-2799.

Learn more on social media with the hashtag #ShireForTheRiver at:

Member Spotlight: Palo Alto Software

The Shire for the River campaign continues through October 26! Your gift goes twice as far with over $12,000 available in matching funds from local tech businesses. Every day, we will share the story of one campaign supporter.

Sabrina Parsons Palo Alto Software
Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, shares why she supports McKenzie River Trust.

Sabrina Parsons shares why she feels businesses should support McKenzie River Trust

Sabrina is CEO of Palo Alto Software, one of nine Silicon Shire technology companies offering matching dollars for this year’s Shire for the River campaign.

Why do you support McKenzie River Trust?

It’s important for businesses to support organizations that are effective in our community. There’s so much going on in our world right now, and I think people can feel a little helpless about what they can do. Supporting McKenzie River Trust is a way to affect something immediately in a very positive way.

What about McKenzie River Trust’s mission appeals to you?

McKenzie River Trust is working on projects that make a direct impact, whether it’s river cleanup or buying land to preserve or protecting our drinking water source. It’s an organization that’s really thinking long term—but at the same time, their work affects the short term and allows people to participate in change that feels immediate.

How does McKenzie River Trust’s work impact you as a business owner?

Our employees want to work for a company they feel has the values and a mission they can relate to. It’s important to so many of our employees that we participate in a positive way in our community. It’s part of who we want to be as a company, and it’s something we can do by working with organizations like McKenzie River Trust.

What do you wish people knew about McKenzie River Trust?

The McKenzie River Trust is protecting the water we actually drink. I don’t know that a lot of people realize when they’re on the McKenzie River that it’s that same water that comes through their pipes. I think everyone should know that, and hopefully it will inspire everybody to be a little more involved in any way they can—whether helping with river cleanup, educating yourself, or giving money so McKenzie River Trust can do more of the work that they’re doing.

Why do you think people should contribute to the Shire for the River campaign?

Because more businesses are on board this year, the match is going to be bigger. When you contribute one dollar, it’s actually two dollars. That’s a compelling reason to give today. Your donation will go farther.

Join us!

Give now to the Shire for the River campaign by visiting the campaign website on Crowdrise, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Suite 270, Eugene, OR 97401. You can also donate over the phone by calling the McKenzie River Trust offices at (541) 345-2799.

Learn more on social media with the hashtag #ShireForTheRiver at:

Member Spotlight: Twenty Ideas

The Shire for the River campaign continues through October 26! Your gift goes twice as far with over $12,000 available in matching funds from local tech businesses. Every day, we will share the story of one campaign supporter.

Mike Biglan Twenty Ideas
Mike Biglan, CEO of Twenty Ideas, shares why he supports McKenzie River Trust.

Twenty IdeasMike Biglan shares why he supports McKenzie River Trust

Mike is CEO of Twenty Ideas, one of nine Silicon Shire technology companies offering matching dollars for this year’s Shire for the River campaign.

Why do you support McKenzie River Trust?

It’s really concerning to our family to see what’s happening to the planet. McKenzie River Trust has a unique perspective on creating a barrier around the rivers—which are really the arteries and veins of the planet—to protect those rivers. The McKenzie River affects us in so many ways. It’s something that really is integrated into everything we do.

What about McKenzie River Trust’s mission appeals to you?

It’s not just about the clean water and the fish and preventing run off. It’s not just one single benefit, but a reminder of all the things that the river is able to provide. Growing up here, so many amazing things that I take for granted tie in with the McKenzie. I got married in Vida. I went river rafting as a kid. And now my children do that too.

What are the long-term benefits of supporting McKenzie River Trust’s work?

I have an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old. With the fires becoming the new normal and all the different weather events that are very likely related to the climate, we need to put money into supporting anything that makes a healthier planet. It’s something that I want for my kids and for all the other kids of their generation. At the very least, they really deserve to have what we have—if not much more.

What do you wish people knew about the Shire for the River campaign?

The Shire for the River campaign shows other businesses, employees and clients that you’re a business that cares about the planet, the world and the people. With this money, it’s very specific and targeted. This money will protect square feet and acres that will be a buffer, one that you can walk on with your kids. And it’s going to be there for a long, long time.

Join us!

Give now to the Shire for the River campaign by visiting the campaign website on Crowdrise, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Suite 270, Eugene, OR 97401. You can also donate over the phone by calling the McKenzie River Trust offices at (541) 345-2799.

Learn more on social media with the hashtag #ShireForTheRiver at:

Member Spotlight: MPulse Software

The Shire for the River campaign is raising money for the lands and rivers of western Oregon from October 16-26. Your gift goes twice as far with over $12,000 available in matching funds from local tech businesses. Every day, we will share the story of one campaign supporter.

Randall Brous and Jason Johnson of MPulse Software share why they support McKenzie River Trust.

Jason Johnson and Randall Brous share how they believe McKenzie River Trust’s work impacts our community

MPulse SoftwareJason is president of MPulse Software and a McKenzie River Trust board member. Randall is CTO of MPulse Software. MPulse is one of nine Silicon Shire technology companies offering matching dollars for this year’s Shire for the River campaign.

Why do you support McKenzie River Trust?

JASON: It’s water, right? It’s our source of water that keeps us alive every day. I think that’s easy to rally around. It’s something that we all recognize is important. And it’s something that, quite frankly, is sacred to all of us—tech businesses and other businesses alike here in Eugene and Springfield.

RANDALL: We all have a responsibility to give back to the area that we live in. It’s important to help recover, restore and protect it—for the way we want it to be now and the way we want it to be for our children. That’s part of being a responsible business.

What do you wish people knew about the McKenzie River Trust?

JASON: Sometimes people ask me, “What does McKenzie River Trust do?” We still have a long way to go as an organization in educating people about the Trust. The basic mission is to preserve riparian habitat along Oregon’s rivers. We want to restore habitat for wildlife. We want to provide clean drinking water for the future, for your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren. And we want to provide recreational access—like the Finn Rock boat landing on the McKenzie—so people get out there and understand what they’re protecting.

How does McKenzie River Trust’s work impact local businesses?

JASON: The clean water that comes from the river makes this area a great place to live. You have all these fantastic recreation opportunities. You have the scenery itself. The privilege of living in a place with rivers like the McKenzie adds to the quality of the community. I think local tech leaders really understand that. It attracts employees, and it makes this a great place to live.

RANDALL: When we hire someone, and they come here because of the quality of life, they’re going to bring along their family. They’re going to need to go to the grocery store, to buy clothing, to buy a car, to buy a house. All these things are interconnected. When McKenzie River Trust and the tech community help protect the water here in the Willamette Valley, it works for all businesses. Everything is interconnected in an economy.

Join us!

Give now to the Shire for the River campaign by visiting the campaign website on Crowdrise, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Suite 270, Eugene, OR 97401. You can also donate over the phone by calling the McKenzie River Trust offices at (541) 345-2799.

Learn more on social media with the hashtag #ShireForTheRiver at:

 

Member Spotlight: Lunar Logic

The Shire for the River campaign is on from October 16-26, 2018! Your gift goes twice as far with over $12,000 available in matching funds from local tech businesses. Every day, we will share the story of one campaign supporter.

Celeste Edman Lunar Logic
Celeste Edman, CEO of Lunar Logic, shares why she supports McKenzie River Trust.

Lunar LogicCeleste Edman shares how McKenzie River Trust’s work contributes to the local economy

Celeste is CEO of Lunar Logic, one of nine Silicon Shire technology companies offering matching dollars for this year’s Shire for the River campaign.

Why do you support McKenzie River Trust?

McKenzie River Trust benefits our whole community. It’s our drinking water. It’s our hiking trails. It’s our riverbanks. It’s our forests. It’s the ecosystems around us. It’s activities we often take for granted.

We have our company here because our community has so much to offer. We really like the outdoors. We’re here because we can go to the river, and it’s so close. We can climb the Buttes. We can go on a hike. We can get to the oceans and the mountains. I’m really committed—and my company is committed—to keeping it beautiful for the next generation and beyond.

How does McKenzie River Trust’s work impact you as a business owner?

Technology as an industry segment has really grown in Eugene-Springfield. One of the crucial parts is recruiting staff. How are we going to bring in people for our new positions, for new companies, for new opportunities?

A big piece of that is lifestyle. You don’t have to do a big commute to live here. The food and beverage sector is awesome here. You can bike to work or catch the EmX. Nature is really close. All of those things play into our recruiting. It’s not just that we have great jobs. Our environment is one where people want to live. McKenzie River Trust is a big part of that.

What do you wish people knew about McKenzie River Trust?

We are fortunate to live in a community where we have accessible, clean water that tastes really good straight out of the tap. And it’s extremely unusual to have such a wealth of natural resources so close to a city of this size.

One of the ways we ensure that we continue to have that incredible resource is to support it. Not only will you ensure we have this wonderful natural area, but we’re going to have an economy that can be sustained. It’s Oregonians supporting Oregonians.

Join us!

Give now to the Shire for the River campaign by visiting the campaign website on Crowdrise, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Suite 270, Eugene, OR 97401. You can also donate over the phone by calling the McKenzie River Trust offices at (541) 345-2799.

Learn more on social media with the hashtag #ShireForTheRiver at:

Member Spotlight: SheerID

The Shire for the River campaign is on from October 16-26, 2018! Your gift goes twice as far with over $12,000 available in matching funds from local tech businesses. Every day, we will share the story of one campaign supporter.

Jake Watherly SheerID
Jake Weatherly, CEO of SheerID, shares why he supports McKenzie River Trust.

SheerIDJake Weatherly explains why McKenzie River Trust’s work is vital to our community

Jake is CEO of SheerID, one of nine Silicon Shire technology companies offering matching dollars for this year’s Shire for the River campaign.

Why do you support McKenzie River Trust?

First and foremost, it’s about clean water. We live a special life here in the Willamette Valley. Clean air and clean water—these things are easy to take for granted. I spend a lot of time in other areas. It’s easy for us to assume that’s the way it is everywhere else. I think we have a major obligation—a huge responsibility on our shoulders—to preserve and enhance our quality of life, because it really is special.

What about the McKenzie River Trust’s mission appeals to you?

What was intriguing to me was their interest in the history and preserving that history. That’s led the community to understand more deeply what the McKenzie River watershed is today, and what it once was. It’s a bridge to the future to make sure we can both preserve it and work to turn things back to what they once were.

How does the McKenzie River Trust’s work impact you as a business owner?

We’ve all decided to come to Eugene and stay in Eugene for very similar reasons. Those reasons are really focused on this rare opportunity that we have in this area to balance the work that we do with the fun and healthy ability to live a quality life.

What’s your personal experience with McKenzie River Trust?

Personally, I’ve enjoyed time on Green Island with my children. They learned how to cast flies without snapping lines, and they dipped into the watershed and then examined everything that was in the water. It was just teeming with life in comparison to what you see on the surface.

The McKenzie Memories event was really moving and helped me understand a little more deeply what McKenzie River Trust is doing. We saw how things used to be when Finn Rock was a giant lumber camp, when it was once a community. It has a tremendous history.

What do you wish people knew about the McKenzie River Trust?

MRT has a unique model—they forge partnerships with private landowners and understand the area really well. They’re looking for opportunities a year from now, five years from now, 20 years from now and beyond to the next generation. I think it’s a very big picture and holistic view.

I really feel it’s our obligation to be involved—whether it’s through donating, volunteering or even evangelizing. Get involved. Because this is something that really is unique to the world.

Join us!

Give now to the Shire for the River campaign by visiting the campaign website on Crowdrise, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Suite 270, Eugene, OR 97401. You can also donate over the phone by calling the McKenzie River Trust offices at (541) 345-2799.

Learn more on social media with the hashtag #ShireForTheRiver at:

 

Member Spotlight: Concentric Sky

The Shire for the River campaign is on from October 16-26, 2018 with a goal to raise $20,000 for the lands and rivers of western Oregon! Every day, we will share the story of one campaign supporter.

Cale Bruckner Concentric Sky
Cale Bruckner, President of Concentric Sky, shares why he supports the McKenzie River Trust.

Cale Bruckner shares why he supports McKenzie River Trust

Cale is president of Concentric Sky, founder of the Silicon Shire, and a former McKenzie River Trust board member.

Why do you support McKenzie River Trust?

I give my own money to McKenzie River Trust because protecting our water resource is vital to this community. We’ve seen multiple examples where other communities have been negatively impacted by having their water source compromised. McKenzie River Trust, EWEB and other organizations are working hard to protect our water source.

We all benefit from the McKenzie River. The water from our taps comes from the McKenzie River. All the beer that we enjoy here in town is from the McKenzie River. That’s important to me. I’m also a fly fisherman, so protecting outdoor places is a priority for me.

What about McKenzie River Trust’s mission appeals to you?

I like their model for protecting lands and resources in our area that are important to all of us. They buy land directly from property owners, or they work with property owners to put conservation easements in place. Sometimes that even comes with grant money to do restoration work.

I was surprised at times to find that some members of this community don’t understand that their tap water comes from the McKenzie River. We need more people in this community to understand what McKenzie River Trust is doing, where their funding is coming from, and how the funds are being used.

If we can get more people to give just a little bit of money, there’s a lot more McKenzie River Trust can do in our community and throughout our region to protect our water sources and outdoor recreation spaces.

How does the McKenzie River Trust’s work impact you as a business owner?

As an employer here in the Eugene tech community, one of the things we use to recruit people from outside the area is the wonderful outdoor experiences that we have here. You can go mountain biking. You can go fly fishing. You can go skiing.

All businesses in this area benefit from the recreation opportunities that we’re fortunate to have here. If we want to protect those resources as a community, then we must give back to the organizations that are working to protect those resources.

What do you wish people knew about the McKenzie River Trust?

When I was on the board, we said McKenzie River Trust was one of Eugene’s best kept secrets. The people who work for McKenzie River Trust are total rock stars. They are out there every day making sure that the McKenzie River—our water source—is protected, and they care passionately about their work. 

How You Can Participate

You can donate to the Shire for the River campaign by visiting the campaign website on Crowdrise, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Suite 270, Eugene, OR 97401. You can also donate over the phone by calling the McKenzie River Trust offices at (541) 345-2799.

Learn more on social media with the hashtag #ShireForTheRiver at:

Shire for the River Campaign Matches Donations Until October 26

Employees from Silicon Shire companies help out every year by volunteering their time to help restore land with McKenzie River Trust.

Beginning Wednesday, October 17, 2018, McKenzie River Trust (MRT) and several local Silicon Shire technology companies will launch their annual Shire for the River campaign. The campaign will last through Friday, October 26.

Nine companies have, together, committed $12,268 in funds to match, dollar-for-dollar, any individual or business contributions made during this year’s campaign period. Businesses participating as this year’s matching fund sponsors include:

Money raised will support MRT’s efforts to protect and care for rivers and riparian habitat in western Oregon.

Shire for the River will start with a Kickoff Happy Hour co-hosted by the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) and XS Media on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, from 5-8 p.m. at Oakshire Public House, 207 Madison Street, Eugene, Oregon 97402.

Maintaining Our Quality of Life

Located in the southern Willamette Valley, the Silicon Shire encompasses technology businesses of all kinds that work together to expand the local infrastructure necessary to build and grow hi-tech business in the area, and to promote Eugene-Springfield as a hi-tech hot spot.

“Projects like the Shire for the River campaign help us to maintain and improve the terrific quality of life we enjoy in this special region. That’s one of our biggest assets, and it truly helps attract great talent and great companies to the area,” said Jason Johnson, MPulse Software president and MRT board member. “Shire companies are dedicated to ensuring that what makes this place so extraordinary will always be here.”

Over the past three years, the Shire for the River campaign has raised more than $50,000 for MRT. This year’s goal is to raise at least another $20,000 to continue McKenzie River Trust’s efforts to protect sensitive lands in the McKenzie watershed.

How You Can Participate

You can donate to the campaign by visiting the campaign website on Crowdrise, or by mailing a check to McKenzie River Trust, 120 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Suite 270, Eugene, OR 97401. You can also donate over the phone by calling the McKenzie River Trust offices at (541) 345-2799.

Learn more on social media with the hashtag #ShireForTheRiver at:

 

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!