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.

Property Purchase Near Blue River Will Fund Scholarships

Thanks to the support of our members, 47 acres are preserved for conservation on the banks of the Blue River

On December 19th, we purchased a property next to the Blue River Park. The purchase was possible thanks to funding from a generous anonymous donor and other McKenzie River Trust supporters and partners.

In 1986, Fred and Dorothy Behm donated the property to McKenzie School District. The district serves 225 students in Finn Rock, OR. The land was intended for timber harvest, but the school did not have the resources to manage timberland. So they considered a sale for conservation as another option.

The proceeds from the sale of this property will help start a scholarship fund for the McKenzie River Community School. We’re so grateful that our members support community-minded projects like this one as we move into a new decade of growth in our organization.

Aerial view of the recently purchased property, adjacent to Blue River Park on the banks of the Blue River, located on Molalla land.

“We brought in the McKenzie River Trust as a potential broker to help facilitate a sale and conservation easement,” said Lane Tompkins, Superintendent/Principal of McKenzie River Community School. “Although this approach did not take shape, MRT took a more hands-on approach, buying the land to manage directly. We take pride in being a part of MRT investing in our community, our school, and most importantly our students.”

An old logging road makes a scenic trail at the new property acquired from McKenzie School District.

Protection for Blue River

This property is important for conservation in the community. It offers recreation and scenic views. It preserves a conifer forest on the banks of the river. An old logging road makes a trail along the Blue River that will remain public. McKenzie River Trust is partnering with Blue River Parks District to steward the land and keep access open.

McKenzie River Community School is using the funds from selling its property to start a scholarship with Oregon Community Foundation.

In addition, the property is next to the Blue River Parks District park. MRT will host a celebration with supporters like you in the spring to reveal the new property’s name. It also has conservation value for protecting the watershed. Wildlife will also benefit from habitat protection. The newly acquired property is also adjacent to other lands in conservation. The nearby lands include the Blue River conservation easement and Finn Rock Reach, both of which are in MRT’s protection.

A view of the forest on the Blue River conservation easement, next to the community of Blue River.

Executive Director Joe Moll said, “We are fortunate to have generous supporters who are willing to help us acquire this key parcel, with benefits to the students of McKenzie School and the larger community. “

Aerial video footage of the McKenzie School Property

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Patagonia Action Works is Matching Donations Through December 31st

UPDATE! The match has been met! Thank you to everyone who supported this campaign, we received over $84,000 that will be met by Patagonia for local conservation in 2020. Thank you again, we’re so grateful to our supporters for taking advantage of this opportunity.

Photo: Tim Giraudier

Patagonia has generously supported the McKenzie River Trust through grants for our fish habitat restoration work. Now they’re challenging you to give back to the lands and rivers you cherish, too. 

Patagonia will match all donations made to McKenzie River Trust on Patagonia Action Works between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31, up to $10,000 per donation, until they’ve reached a maximum match of $10,000,000.  

Giving Tuesday is December 3rd

Give today and your dollars will be matched!

Give Now

We have a special match challenge for Giving Tuesday! Support our lands and waters this #givingtuesday with a gift to McKenzie River Trust.

Giving Tuesday is a global movement that encourages people to do good. Hundreds of millions of people have come together on this day for the last few years to raise money for causes they care about.

A gift to McKenzie River Trust means investing in work to protect lands and rivers people cherish in Western Oregon. We protect and steward the lands and rivers that support healthy communities. We connect those who are upstream to the lands and rivers affected by their choices. We restore river meanders and floodplain forests where we can. With your support, we work with landowners who share this vision to sustain the special places around us.

We’re celebrating 30 years of local conservation. We’d love your help funding the next 30 years 

Give Now

McKenzie River Trust Celebrates 30 Years

This month marks 30 years of land and river conservation in Western Oregon at McKenzie River Trust. we wanted to mark the occasion with a graphic showcasing some of our accomplishments over the last 30 years. Do you have a memory you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!

Our 30 Year Milestones

1989 Tom Bowerman and Bob Doppelt bring together concerned citizens interested in protecting and preserving the McKenzie River’s pristine quality for future generations.

1999 MRT expands its service area to include all of Lane County and parts of Douglas County with community support. Kurt Hupé joins MRT as the first executive director.

2002 ODFW biologists find Oregon chub at the Big Island property. It’s the first time in over 100 years the chub is seen in the McKenzie River watershed.

2014 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to remove the Oregon chub from the Endangered Species List — the first fish ever to be delisted due to recovery.

2007-08 The Trust protects more than 400 acres with five landowners in the Tenmile Creek watershed north of Florence.

1991 EWEB collaborates with Tom Bowerman to mitigate the impact of Leaburg Dam. MRT protects its first land, buying the Smith Forest in fee title. George Grier and Cynthia Pappas donate MRT’s first conservation easement on Big Island near Springfield.

2003 The Green family sells the Trust 865 acres where the McKenzie and Willamette rivers meet. Karen Green shares: “Before it is too late, we want this land to be protected for all the special things it has and can offer future generations.” The Green Island purchase ensures 1,300 contiguous acres of land will be protected in one of the most diverse habitats in western Oregon.

2000-01 EWEB kicks off the McKenzie Conservancy Campaign with a $500k grant for McKenzie watershed protection. The Trust raises another $500k from the community to unlock the final $500k, a challenge grant from the EWEB water protection fund first discussed in 1991.

2010 MRT secures protection for 217 acres near Mapleton on the Siuslaw River, 92 acres on Camp Creek Road on the lower McKenzie, and a 56-acre former gravel mine next to Green Island.

2015 MRT works with the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians to conserve 125 acres along Fivemile Creek.

2018 Over 400 people contribute to the McKenzie Homewaters Campaign, raising $4.6 million to repay the bridge loan used to acquire Finn Rock Reach, restore and care for the land, and create a fund for future conservation projects.

1997 MRT secures a 20-acres tract east of Blue River in response to local leaders’ effort to permanently protect hillside. It is the Trust’s first conservation property beyond riparian floodplain habitat.

2015-16 MRT seizes an opportunity to conserve Finn Rock Reach. The McKenzie riverfront property is vital for more than 200,000 people who rely on the McKenzie for their drinking water. The spectacular property includes spawning ground for native Chinook salmon, the popular Finn Rock Boat Landing, and the historic Finn Rock Logging camp.

2013 1,000+ people attend the Living River Celebration on Green Island to commemorate ten years of conservation work.

2005 75 volunteers turn out to plant 3,400 native trees on Green Island.

2001 Forest Care becomes MRT’s first conservation easement outside the McKenzie watershed.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival Comes to Eugene

On November 14, one of the largest environmental films festivals travels to inspire your love of the outdoors. Check out our film line up and don’t forget to get your tickets!

Wild & Scenic Eugene 2019 Program

A New View of the Moon

A short film to kick things off that reminds us of our common humanity and reminds us to look up every once in a while. Watch as Wylie Overstreet takes a telescope around the streets of Los Angeles to give passersby an up-close look at a new view of the moon.

Tenkara Kid

The simple pleasure of a centuries old Japanese fishing technique and how it can bring us together with rivers and their inhabitants. This film hearkens back to the time in our youth when fishing gear was easily carried in one hand.

Carving Landscapes

Atypical for her time, Mary Vaux defies all gender roles, mountain weather, and traditions to spark the first glaciology study in North America. Her perseverance brings her back to the same glacier for five decades.

Our National Parks Belong to Everyone. So Why are They So White?

Only 20 percent of visitors to National Parks are people of color. Learn about the troubling history of public lands and to meet the conservationists of color who are trying to change the parks’ future.

Blue Carbon

Blue carbon is captured and stored by coastal wetlands, helping to mitigate climate change. This film is about mud and the multiple benefits that estuaries provide for us. Shot in the Pacific Northwest.


Portland-based organization called Soul River, our partner through the Willamette River Initiative, who is working to bring veterans and inner city youth together around fly fishing to heal past traumas and build a community of support.

Bring Them Home

Provides important and often neglected indigenous perspective on how to manage our wildlife and natural resources. Tribal voices tell the story of how one tribe is working to bring back the buffalo.

March of the Newts

From right here in the Great Pacific Northwest, follow one of the forest’s funkiest creatures into a gangly gathering of amphibious affection… and learn how you can help protect these sensitive animals from an emerging disease.

Carpe Diem

In a city full of people trying to catch a break, one lucky man hooks into an unexpected dream that becomes the role of a lifetime, reminding him to seize each new day as a chance to do what he loves.

Tracking Snow

Discover a novel way of studying elusive carnivores – with snow! Join scientists Jessie and Tommy as they re-purpose an old technique in a way that not only revolutionizes how we study threatened species and manage our landscapes, but also highlights the importance of collaboration in conservation.

Protected: A Wild & Scenic River Portrait

Follow river paddler, author, and conservationist Tim Palmer through the enchanting waters of Oregon’s Wild Rivers
Coast, which has the highest concentration of National Wild & Scenic Rivers in the US

Keepers of the Future

In a fertile floodplain, where the great river meets the sea, a peasant movement puts down roots – growing resilience
in the scorched earth of exile and war. But soon these farmers and fishers discover new, global challenges.

Lost in Light

Lost in Light is a short film on how light pollution affects the view of the night skies. Shot mostly in California, this piece
shows how the night sky view gets progressively better as you move away from the lights.

Wren Marsh a Key to Conservation on the Coast

Habitat Protected 10 Years Ago Expands with a Strategic Purchase

A view of Wren Marsh, a property MRT recently acquired.

In 2010, we acquired a 210-acre property between Florence and Mapleton known as Waite Ranch. This land is adjacent to Highway 126 and just upstream of Cushman Landing. It’s identified as a conservation priority because of the variety of habitat types that could be restored there. Tidal estuary and marshland are home to an abundance of fish and wildlife.

There are few of these types of habitats left on the Central Oregon Coast.
Nearly 1,000 acres of protected conservation lands surrounds Waite Ranch, which makes it an excellent candidate for restoration work. McKenzie River Trust felt the opportunity was too great to pass up, and we used our success and resources to buy the land and work alongside a variety of partners working to protect and restore coastal habitat.

On September 25th, the Trust acquired Wren Marsh, an 8-acre parcel of land across the Siuslaw River from Waite Ranch that fills one of the last remaining gaps in this conservation complex and significantly benefits restoration efforts. The Waite Ranch Restoration Project will benefit from critical cost savings thanks to this purchase. Because of the acquisition, we can remove powerlines serving Wren Marsh that cross Waite Ranch instead of re-routing them.

A Good Neighbor

MRT Stewardship Manager Jodi Lemmer and Land Owner Dick Fithian

Wren Marsh had been owned by Dick Fithian for nearly 30 years. Dick was deeply knowledgeable about the land and history of Wren Marsh and Waite Ranch, having spent much of his time as a kid visiting the land with members of the Waite family. When MRT bought Waite, Dick was there to lend a hand and an ear as MRT got to know the unique characteristics of land on the Siuslaw River. When Dick decided to sell Wren Marsh, we were grateful he chose us to continue the legacy of stewardship.

Restoring Tidal Swamp Land

The fields of Wren Marsh

The Siuslaw estuary is an idyllic marshy region; filled with the sound of frequent and varied birdsong.
Over the years, development caused estuaries like this to be diked, drained, and converted, eliminating habitat needed for young fish and shellfish to thrive. Studies from the 70’s and early 80’s first showed the important roles that estuaries play for fish. More recent local studies have shown the import role restoration can play in the recovery of our fisheries.
While there has been great success in preserving land in the Siuslaw estuary, areas like Waite Ranch and Wren Marsh remain degraded by blocked fish passage, loss of tidal channels, lack of habitat diversity, and poor water quality during summer months.

The dock at Waite Ranch, the property across the river from Wren Marsh

Approximately 200 acres of tidal estuary habitat are expected to result from planned restoration efforts, along with about 10 miles of tidal channel. This habitat could offer a home and refuge for many sensitive fish and wildlife species, including American bald eagles, shorebirds like the short billed dowitcher, and native fish such as coastal coho, steelhead, and Chinook salmon.

McKenzie River Trust on the Oregon Coast

A puprle martin rests at Waite Ranch on the Siuslaw. Photo: Jim Regali

The success of our conservation work in the McKenzie River watershed brought McKenzie River Trust to lend a hand to other vital watersheds. Our first project on the central coast was in 2007 and we continue to protect more land in the region.

The Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, the Siuslaw Watershed Council, and a network of government agencies are our partners in conservation in this region. Together, our knowledge, technical expertise, and flexibility expands the capability to preserve coastal lands and waters.

A no-interest loan to the Trust from local donors made this purchase possible. We are very grateful for the support of our members. We can expand our mission to help people protect and care for the lands and rivers they cherish in Western Oregon.

How You Can Help

We are looking for more strategic partners in connecting coastal community members to our lands and our work. Please encourage anyone you know to join. Next year, we will see more volunteer and tour opportunities to help connect our members to this vital estuary.

McKenzie River Trust 30th Anniversary Celebration

Celebrate with us as we commemorate 30 years of conservation work in Western Oregon. Connect with other supporters, staff, and volunteers. Enjoy appetizers, and of course, birthday cake!

Valley River Inn
McKenzie Ballroom

Space is limited for this event, so it is very important that you send in your RSVP by November 8! Please RSVP now by clicking here.

This event is a casual celebration. Feel free to drop in any time and say hello. We will have photo booths and a couple of ways to connect with others and share your memories.

Freshwater Mussels in our Rivers

Emilie Blevins from the Xerces Society talking to McKenzier River Trust volunteers about freshwater mussel traits and habitats.

On Friday, August 2nd, MRT staff and volunteers met at our Finn Rock Reach property to learn about freshwater mussels. We were lucky to host Emilie Blevins of the Xerces Society. She gave a talk about the importance of mussels to watershed environments and showed volunteers what to look for during a survey.

Emilie provided the group with a guide to freshwater mussels and brought some examples of mussel shells found in Oregon. The western pearlshell is the species we were most likely to find in our Finn Rock Reach survey. The Xerces society focuses on conserving invertebrate habitats.

Emilie showing the volunteers what to look for while surveying for mussels.

The Importance of Freshwater Mussels

Freshwater mussels provide food for a variety of wildlife. In addition, they are beneficial to water quality, processing nutrients, and supporting habitats. They filter tiny suspended materials such as algae, bacteria, and zooplankton that bottom dwelling animals can feed on. 

One mussel can filter up to 15 gallons of water a day. They can also live to be over 100 years old! Due to their age, they also retain essential minerals. Mussels may improve habitat quality and diversity of benthic macroinvertebrates (Known as “benthos”) like caddisflies, dragon & damsel flies, and crayfish. Mussel movements stir oxygen and nutrients into the sediment and water, similar to how earthworms in your garden help your soil. Further, mussel shells provide a surface for algae and animals (such as sponges and insect larvae) to attach.

Mussels played an important role for humans historically. Native populations ate mussels in seasons when food was scarce and used shells for tool parts. Mussels were also exploited commercial for the button industry in the 19th century and later to cultivate freshwater pearls. 

Conservation of Mussels

There are nearly 300 species of mussels documented in the United States. Thirty five species have gone extinct over the last century. The Endangered Species Act lists 25% of mussel species. States across the country list 75% of mussel species as threatened or endanged. 

Support has grown for mussel conservation in recent years, as scientists and conservationists are learning the strong correlation between healthy mussel beds and healthy salmon runs.

In Oregon, the Umatilla and Warm Springs Native American tribes are conducting research and working to conserve mussel populations. Other organizations like the Willamette Riverkeeper and the Xerces Society also conduct mussel research. McKenzie River Trust hopes to find or restore mussel beds in our properties along the McKenzie River at Finn Rock Reach and beyond. 

Mussel Surveying

People are welcome to search for mussels and report any findings with photos to the McKenzie River Trust. Be sure not to remove the mussels from their habitat or harm them in the process of your discovery. 

Volunteers all geared up to search McKenzie River shores for mussels

Emilie taught the Friends of Finn Rock group to look for mussels in shallow, slow moving waters. A glass bucket or aqua viewing tube helps to see under the water. For advanced swimmers, snorkeling is also an option for surveying mussels. While our group didn’t find any mussels in this survey, the life we found was exciting. They noted seeing Chinook salmon hatchlings, caddisflies, a lamprey, and crayfish.

Would you like to participate in future community science surveys and projects? Sign up for our volunteer team today!