Seven Books to Connect You to Nature While Staying Home

We’re passionate about connecting to the comfort and sense of well-being nature can provide. While our usual programming has been on hold to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff put together a list of books that might bring you the same solace as being outside can.

Books by Friends of the Trust

Horizon by Barry Lopez

A long time friend and supporter of McKenzie River Trust, Barry Lopez is a national book award winner and is passionate about the natural world. This book tells stories of all of his travels and explorations. Underneath all the stories is a call to leave behind a better world for the climate and for future generations.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer was going to speak at our Upstream event this month, but the social distancing guidelines meant the event had to be canceled. We’re hoping to reschedule Robin’s visit later this year. Meanwhile, you can dive into her lyrical exposition about the natural world from her perspective as an Indigenous scientist, mother, and woman. J. Michaels Books ordered dozens of copies of this book for the event, and they are offering curbside service for book lovers.

Book Recommendations from Staff

Meander Scars: Reflections on Healing the Willamette River by Abby Phillips Metzger

Metzger weaves an intimate tale of discovery, loss, and finding hope along the banks of the Willamette River. With each passing chapter, Metzger shares the story of this mighty river that now supports millions of people in Oregon. Offering the reader a glimpse through time to the river that once was and sharing a detailed view of the river that is now, this book is built on a sobering understanding of how settlers have reshaped this river while offering opportunities to celebrate the resilience of the natural world, and the human spirit.

Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People: Colonialism, Nature & Social Action by Kari Marie Norgaard

“Transformative for environmental justice! So many powerful relationships have created a lasting, generous and complex book, connecting ecology, culture, food, history, and self-determination. Cutting in her critique of colonial power, Norgaard shows powerfully what sociology and ally-ship can achieve when responsibility and accountability are centered.”  -Kyle Powys Whyte, Professor and Timnick Chair, Michigan State University

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature By J. Drew Lanham

From Elizabeth, “Reading J. Drew Lanham’s The Home Place is like sitting down over a pot of tea with a longtime friend. In the book, Lanham shares the stories of his youth, centering family and nature as foundational elements of life in the American south. Lanham’s gift for storytelling dances off the pages. In this vulnerable account of his lived experience, we are offered an opportunity to deepen our own perspectives around the ties between race, identity, and the natural world. “

Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb

Eager is a powerful story about one of the world’s most influential species, how North America was colonized, how our landscapes have changed over the centuries, and how beavers can help us fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change. Ultimately, it’s about how we can learn to coexist, harmoniously and even beneficially, with our fellow travelers on this planet.”

Riverwalking – Reflections on Moving Water by Kathleen Dean Moore

From Holly, “I have recently rediscovered this book at the same time I discover the wonders we encounter when exploring the Willamette River.  My family has made a tradition of floating from Eugene to Corvallis each summer, camping on the banks and islands along the way and this book always joins me!  This collection of essays captures the beauty and sometimes heartbreak to be found through parenting, aging, loving, sleeping under the stars, and watching an otter dive below the surface of the water. “

A Rare Species at the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve

This article was published with permission from Cary Kerst, who discovered a new species of Stonefly in a place now protected by conservation. The species was named Capnia kersti, after Kerst himself.

The Forgotten Habitat

I began a study of the aquatic insects at Willow Creek in Lane County, Oregon in 1995 and continued through 1996. Willow Creek is a summer-dry stream at the south edge of the City of Eugene with water flow from November into June during normal rainfall years. These small summer-dry streams have always been a personal interest and are an endangered habitat type. Being summer-dry, these streams don’t get the protection or interest that permanent waters receive. In addition, during the summer season when many projects such as building, road construction or even ecological restoration projects are in progress, these streams are dry and thought is not given to minimizing impacts to them.
During this study, I found an undescribed stonefly in the family Capniidae. This species, later named Capnia kersti was described by Dr. Riley Nelson of Brigham Young University in 2004. Dr. Nelson found it to be of special interest as a species in a subgroup of the Capnia californica complex that was found far north of all of the other species in the subgroup (Nelson, 2004). Nelson proposes that C. Kersti is one of the common ancestors of the subgroup. You can see from the photo that it looks – well – like every other Capnia species!

C. Kersti stonefly. Photo: Cary Kerst

Andrew Reasoner Preserve

Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve. Photo: Tim Giraudier, Beautiful Oregon

Some species in the Capnia californica group have been collected from summer-dry streams (Nelson, 2004), and C. kersti is associated with a summer-dry stream. Adults emerge from February until early April. The eggs lie in the dry streambed until the stream is wetted in late fall. The larvae of the Capniidae are shredders feeding on allochthonous material.
I have been interested in finding additional sites where C. kersti occurs and, while I collect widely in Oregon, have thus far not found any other sites. The Xerces Society and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are interested in any additional sites where it occurs. The Pacific Northwest Regional Office of the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon/Washington State Office of the Bureau of Land Management have an interagency program for the conservation and management of rare species. C. kersti is listed by the Federal Interagency Special Status / Sensitive Species Program (ISSSSP).
I visited the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve on Monday, Feb. 8 to check the streams for Capnia kersti. The lower section is too flat and boggy to be appropriate habitat but the hillside habitat looked good though the stream substrate is finer than Willow Creek where the species is found.

Using a sweep net, I began finding Capnia around the stream at the first trail crossing. Progressing up the hill, they seemed to taper off. I can identify the genus by sight but the species requires close examination of the male genitalia under a microscope for specific identification.

Sharing the Science

I brought some specimens back for examination, and they looked close to the illustration in Nelson 2004. Nelson illustrates the known species of the Capnia californica complex in his 2004 paper. I photographed the male epiproct which is characteristic and sent the photos to Boris Kondratieff at the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity at Colorado State University. Boris also thought they looked close to Capnia kersti.

I returned to the creek on Feb. 10 to further survey the stream. I found no Capnia on the flat section near the highway. At the lower site on the map, I again easily picked up 23 adults sweeping along the stream. I checked a side channel (see map) and found a single specimen. The adults move around so it this doesn’t necessarily indicate they are in this channel. At the upper site (see map), I also found a single specimen so they are not common this high on the stream. This isn’t unusual for seasonal streams as the stream becomes more and more ephemeral as you move up in elevation. These streams are fed by small feeder streams as you move down in elevation causing the stream flow to be more constant through the winter season.

I shipped specimens to Colorado State for confirmation of the species on February 10. The package arrived at CSU on Feb. 23, and Boris Kondratieff and another specialist there have confirmed that the specimens are indeed Capnia kersti.
Given the number of adult specimens on the creek at the Andrew Reasoner Preserve, I believe that this is actually a larger population than on Willow Creek. This is quite an exciting find for me as I’ve searched for another site for years.

Staying Connected During Physical Distancing

McKenzie River Trust Board Member Bev Hollander shared her thoughts on connection during a time of social-distancing.


One way to look at the COVID-19, known as coronavirus, is to see how connected we are world-wide. Yet the irony of things right now is while in the midst of this pandemic, the best advice to protect yourself is to practice “social distancing.” I agree with this advice – it is logical, sound and reassuring – and also believe it will flatten the curve in order to slow down the spread of this virus and prevent a serious breakdown of our health care system. 

Contemplating how to stay connected while we work to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Photo credit: Tim Giraudier

I still think about how connected we all are and wonder how best to maintain that connection while basically quarantining myself. For me, the best and most effective thing I can do is connect with the land. McKenzie River Trust uses that phrase often, it is woven into our work. It’s the title of our events calendar and what we hope to offer towards that connection for you. Right now we are reflecting on the connections we have built in the last 30 years, and how we might support them at a time of distancing and slowing down.

You certainly can remain connected to friends and family via technology.

Some additional ideas for you: Connect (or re-connect) with the earth.  Spend time outdoors in nature. If you go hiking with others, make sure to avoid direct contact with each other. Speaking as a retired RN, breathing the clean moist air outside to help boost your immune system. Spend 20 minutes or so, when the sun shines, and bathe your bare skin in it – face and hands at a minimum.  Vitamin D production is enhanced which also helps your immune system. In addition, being outdoors can help you relax and reduce stress. Too much stress really compromises your immune system.

Finding sunshine is a healthy way to reduce stress while limiting your contact with other people.

Reduce your time listening or reading about the news. I sure get stressed and anxious when I learn too much.  And then separating fact from fiction is a challenge. I suggest getting your corona virus info from the CDC, WHO and local government. 

Turn on some music and Dance!  Meditate and connect with your Self. Binge watch your favorite show.  Exercise. Do jigsaw puzzles. Play cards or some board games. Eat well and also rest well. Laugh a lot.  Reach out to someone to whom you haven’t connected in a while. All of the above will assist you in maintaining strong immunity as well as providing pleasure.

Stay Connected. You can stay connected to us on social media and through email. Reach out, let us know how we can help. 

Public Notice: Land Trust Accreditation Renewal

Stakeholder Notification

The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The McKenzie River Trust is pleased to announce it is applying for renewal of accreditation. A public comment period is now open.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. McKenzie River Trust is proud to be part of a strong collection of land trusts that work together to follow best practices, keep public trust high, and stay committed to ethical conduct.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how the McKenzie River Trust complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards see

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit, or email your comment to Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. 

Comments on the McKenzie River Trust’s application will be most useful by June 21, 2020.

McKenzie River Trust is currently accredited with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is applying for renewal in 2020.

How to Maximize Your Charitable Impact in 2020

2019 was a great year for McKenzie River Trust. Our staff grew as well as the number of properties we own and protect in conservation. The community came together supporting conservation work that protects our drinking water and local wildlife. As we celebrate our 30th year, we know how much more work there is to do in the face of a changing climate. We also recognize that the entire environmental protection movement needs to become more inclusive, welcoming, and equitable to more people.

We’re beginning a major floodplain restoration at Finn Rock Reach. You can help restore native fish and wildlife habitats in 2020.

Looking forward

Your support can help us protect drinking water in vulnerable communities. Photo: Erin Reynolds

In the next five years, we have some ambitious goals! We will expand our work to protect threatened watersheds on the Oregon coast. We’re striving to create a five-mile stretch of protected land along the banks of the McKenzie River near Vida. In that same stretch, we will restore over 200 acres of floodplain. All the while we plan to stay agile and open to new opportunities to protect land as it becomes available. With your help, we’ll increase connections between people and natural spaces in our region.
As a member of the Trust there are so many ways in which you grow conservation in our community. Here are six ways you can make your giving have an even bigger impact on the rivers and lands you cherish.

Peer to Peer Fundraising

Peer to Peer fundraising is an increasingly popular tool through social media and other online methods of communication. In the last 5 years, Facebook users have raised over $1 billion by asking their friends for birthday donations. [JS1] If you use Facebook, you can find easy,step-by-step instructions on how to have your own fundraiser here.

If you’re not a Facebook user, we understand! There are other ways to raise money from your network online. You can send our online donation page to your friends via email or text message. We can even work with you to create a customized donation form just for you! Let us know if you’d like to learn more.

Host a House Party

Celebrate local conservation with friends. Photo: Cliff Etzel

Some of our members partner with McKenzie River Trust staff to host a party at their home to share the work of the Trust. Do you know a group of people who would enjoy learning about conservation work in our region?

If you have a group of friends that you would like to share our work with, please connect with Liz Lawrence, our Development Director.

Check for Employer Match

Many companies have a donation matching program. Check with the company you work for to see if there is an avenue to double your donation impact.

Donate a Match Challenge

Match challenges are one of the best ways to excite our membership and inspire giving. For Giving Tuesday in 2019, our board president Louise Solliday gave a $5,000 match challenge to the Trust. We were able to leverage her challenge to raise another $7,000 from our members and the larger community in just one day! By pledging a match donation you are energizing and mobilizing our membership and, helping maximize their impact too.

Become a Monthly Member

Many of our members contribute as monthly givers. This allows them to have a positive influence throughout the year without needing a large sum all at once. Even a gift as small as $5.00 a month can help our waters stay clean and our wildlife thrive. Forgot to make your annual contribution in December? This is a great way to provide the Trust with reliable and consistent support. If you would like to set up a monthly gift, you can call our office or contact Julia Sherwood, our Membership Manager, or visit our website and choose the “recurring gift” option.

Join the Confluence Legacy Club

You can help ensure beautiful spaces and drinking water for the next generation. Photo: Athena Delene.

No matter your income level, a planned gift in your estate offers the opportunity to leave a legacy for what you care about in life. You can choose a dollar amount, percentage, or a residual gift in your will or estate plan. As a part of the Confluence Legacy Club, you will be ensuring a legacy of conservation for our grandchildren’s grandchilden . Learn more about the Confluence Legacy Club.

What are some of the ways you’re making a difference in your community? Share with us! Send an email to to share your story.

How to Become a Birder

One of MRT’s basic tenets is to connect people to the land and rivers.  Besides hiking, rafting, fishing, swimming and other outdoor activities that connect us, bird watching is seeing a rise in popularity.  What’s so special for me when I birdwatch is how connected I feel to nature and my environs.  

Belted Kingfisher on Green Island Photo: Kit Larsen

How does one begin birding? 

From a personal perspective, the first thing to do is stop and listen, and I do mean stop in your tracks. If you hear the sound of a bird, try to zero in on its location.  Is it up in a tree nearby or in a bush lower to the ground? In the water? Flying in the sky? The bird’s choice of place to hang out offers insight into its identity. Patience is very important as these creatures are usually very shy and can move very quickly.

Osprey flying. Photo: Kit Larsen

There are numerous how-to resources available online to get started birding. Here are few I like to reference:  

Audubon’s How to Start Birding
Texas Parks and Wildlife Introduction to Birding
Next Avenue’s Birdwatching Primer
Nation Park Service’s Birding for Beginners

You can also join a local bird walk with Lane Audubon Society.

I carry binoculars with a 7 or 8 power.  REI and/or Cabela’s have a range of prices and are a good place to get your hands on a pair. If you’re in Eugene, you should also check out Wild Birds Unlimited on Willamette for advice and a fine selection of binoculars. It takes a bit of practice to coordinate the use of them and find that bird you see up in that tree! My secret is to keep my eyes focused on the subject and bring the binoculars up to my face.  Hopefully, the critter is right there in my scope of vision.  

Identifying Birds

Cedar Waxwing Photo: Kit Larsen

As you sight a bird and want to identify it, notice if there is anything striking about its plumage, e.g., bright red on its head, a black circle around its eye, stripes on its wing or tail – just observe.  Maybe there’s nothing at all that is striking about its plumage, but how about the shape of the head, shoulders or beak? How big is it? What about its flight pattern – steady on or dipping and soaring? Does it make a distinctive chirp or song?

To identify the birds you spy, you absolutely need a reference book or two and perhaps a phone app. For a local reference, check out: Birds of Oregon and Birds of the Pacific Northwest (A Timber Press Field Guide) by John Shewey. Sibley is a more comprehensive guideFree mobile apps include: 

Connecting to the Community 

If you prefer the company of others, join a group and get out in the field with other birders. Join the bird walks with Lane Audubon, Buford Park, the Wildbirds Unlimited Store or Birds of Oregon and General Science (BOGS). Also, keep an eye on MRT’s calendar, as we sometimes host birding walks on our conservation properties.  Groups can help you sustain your birding enthusiasm and offer knowledge and companionship.  Your next best way is backyard feeding. Wildbirds Unlimited is a wonderful resource to get you going on your home feeding stations. 

And if you want to see wild raptors up close and personal, check out Cascade Raptors on Fox Hollow. They have regular visiting hours and opportunities to watch these birds fly in their specialized cages. 

In addition, online forums offer postings of local sightings and discussions: 

American Birding Association 


And, if you watch birds long enough, you will eventually recognize a bird by its song without ever laying your eyes upon it. Now that is truly connecting!

MRT Bird Walk from May 2019 at Coyote Spencer Wetlands. Photo: Ron Green

(Special thanks to birder extraordinaire, Kit Larsen, for his advice and suggestions for this article.)

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More Birds Sighted on MRT Properties

Lincoln Sparrow at Waite Ranch Photo: Jim Regali
Marbled Murrelet on the coast Photo: Cary Kerst
Bald eagles nesting. Photo: Cary Kerst