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