Native Oaks Ridge Protected!

326 acres protected for conservation in the Row River Drainage

Photos by Matt McRae

The tangled branches of a gnarled Oregon white oak glisten as the sun makes its way out from behind a cloud. Landowners Linda and Doug Carnine look out at this 326-acre expanse of oak savanna, oak woodland, upland prairie and conifer forest above the Row River. They watch spring unfold on the land they have stewarded for nearly two decades with a sense of contentment and excitement.

This spring has a slightly different feel to it, however. This year the Carnines are watching the wildflowers bloom and the trees come to life on a landscape that has been protected forever through a conservation easement with the McKenzie River Trust.

The Bonneville Power Administration and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife provided funding for the protection of this property through a competitive process within the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program.  The Willamette Wildlife Habitat Agreement, which created the funding program that funded the acquisition, was signed in October of 2010 between BPA and the state of Oregon.  This 15-year agreement provides stable funding for wildlife habitat acquisitions for more than 26,000 acres in the Willamette Valley to offset the impacts of federal dams on the Willamette River and its tributaries, as required by the Northwest Power Act. The landowners, Doug and Linda Carnine, also donated a portion of the easement value.

The Legacy of Stewardship Continues

The significance of this land is rich with a history of stewardship. Linda and Doug point out that the conservation on this land didn’t start with them.

This land is in the area of the Village of Chief Halo Tish of the Yoncalla Kalapuya Tribe. The oak savannas were used by Native Americans for harvest of important foods such as acorns and camas. The name Native Oaks Ridge honors that history.

The Carnines will continue to work with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon on managing the property.

Holistic Land Management

For years, the Carnines have enhanced this land for native plants and wildlife, encouraging a variety of habitats on land once primarily managed for timber.

Starting with the forest, they began restoring the diversity of trees. “A lot of slashpiles from timber harvests were left behind leading to a blackberry jungle,” says Linda of what the property looked like when they first bought it.

“We eradicated most of these with heavy machinery. Then we were able to replant western red cedar, valley pine and incense cedar.”

Grant funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service helped with forest management like pruning and thinning. “We wanted to include a special forest management area that offers an alternative to monoculture Douglas fir forests,” says Doug. “Species and age diversity of the trees contributes to overall forest health and provides high quality habitat for wildlife.”

The wildlife has taken notice. Between the bird activity and the bear, deer, elk, cougar, bobcat, coyote and fox signs, Native Oaks Ridge provides a home to a host of animals.

Forest management in the conservation easement ensures that the property will continue to be managed holistically. It encourages restoration of oak and prairie habitats, while allowing the landowner to thin for timber.

Restoring oak and prairie habitat

“Today, less than 2 percent of prairie and oak habitats in the Willamette Valley remain. As a result, many plants and animals dependent on these shrinking habitats are threatened or in decline,” says Amanda Gilbert, Executive Director of the Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council who is a partner in restoration of this property.

One of the Carnines’ major goals for expanding wildlife habitat on the property sparked a 10-year partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Partners Program: to bring the endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly to the prairie.

The Carnines worked with the Partners Program to do a controlled burn on a part of the prairie and seed the area with golden paintbrush, a host plant for the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly.

Last summer there were 170 golden paintbrush plants counted in the prairie, making this one of the healthiest populations in south-central Oregon.

“Restoring this oak habitat will add complexity back to the landscape, which in turn will support a greater number of plant and animal species and increase landscape resiliency in the face of climate change,” says Gilbert.

“This property is an importance piece of the whole landscape. The watershed is more than just the rivers in it. What goes on in the uplands affects the rivers below,” says Joe Moll, Executive Director of McKenzie River Trust. The Row River, which feeds into the Coast Fork Willamette River, is currently the drinking water source for the City of Cottage Grove.

Press Release: Living River Celebration

For Immediate Release

Contact: Liz Lawrence
Director of Resources
llawrence@mckenzieriver.org
541-345-2799

McKenzie River Trust Hosts Living River Event
Celebrating Green Island Conservation

EUGENE, Ore. (June 19, 2014) – On Saturday, June 28, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., the McKenzie River Trust will celebrate 11 years of land and water conservation on Green Island with a free and family-friendly event. The McKenzie River Trust invites families, friends, and nature lovers to enjoy the conserved land and water at the Living River Celebration.

Visitors will enjoy birdsong and live music, freshwater and cold beverages, all while exploring 1,100 acres of rolling floodplain that grow wilder by the day. Activities include tree climbing, guided tours, birding, picnicking, self-guided walks and runs, canoeing, Ninkasi beer, a musical performance by guitarist Don Latarski, and more than a dozen booths from local conservation organizations. New this year, writers and others will offer walking tours and free workshops for nature lovers to get in tune with their senses and better appreciate the land.

Green Island is located west of Coburg, Oregon where the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers come together. Green Island is just a 15-minute drive from downtown Eugene or Springfield. Parking on the property is limited, so carpooling is encouraged.

For more details about this event, including a full schedule of activities and directions, visit mckenzieriver.org/events/living-river/.

About the McKenzie River Trust
The McKenzie River Trust is a nonprofit land trust that was formed in 1989 to conserve and care for special lands and the rivers that flow through them in western Oregon. For 25 years, McKenzie River Trust has worked with landowners and diverse partnerships to protect, forever, nearly 4,000 acres of special lands in western Oregon. The McKenzie River Trust is committed to a future in which intact, functioning ecosystems provide clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and productive natural landscapes throughout western Oregon. To learn more about McKenzie River Trust, visit mckenzieriver.org.

About the Living River events
The Living River event, now in its sixth year, is the McKenzie River Trust’s annual event to connect our community to the unique landscapes that surround us in Oregon – where we all live, work, and play. Living River events benefit the McKenzie River Trust’s mission. Last year’s Living River Celebration was the first to be held on Green Island. Over 800 people joined us to walk, bird, paddle, climb, picnic, and explore this special place. To see pictures of last year’s celebration, visit http://on.fb.me/1nhTN0G.

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Living River Celebration Showcases Green Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2013

Contact: Liz Lawrence
Director of Resources, McKenzie River Trust
541-345-2799 or llawrence@mckenzieriver.org

McKenzie River Trust Invites the Community to Explore
10 Years of Habitat Conservation on Property Near Eugene

[EUGENE, ORE.] When you picture re-forestation in Oregon, you might imagine the cool mountains of the Cascades or Coast range. But a different kind of re-forestation has been steadily enhancing native habitat on the Willamette Valley floor for the past 8 years, much closer to Eugene than you may know. With the Living River Celebration: 10 Years on Green Island from 7am to 5pm on Saturday, June 29, the McKenzie River Trust invites the community to explore this special place just 15 minutes from downtown Eugene or Springfield.

Volunteers and local contractors have joined the McKenzie River Trust to plant more than 80,000 native trees and shrubs on Green Island since 2006 in an effort to restore the floodplain forest. Come see this special place during the Living River Celebration on Saturday, June 29 from 7am to 5pm. Photo by Tim Giraudier.

Directions to Green Island and the full day’s schedule of events can be found at https://www.mckenzieriver.org/events/living-river/.

Green Island is located at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers just west of Coburg, OR. Since 2006, the McKenzie River Trust has been undertaking an ambitious habitat restoration project on the property, planting tens of thousands of trees, removing barriers to floodplain connectivity, and enhancing side channels of the Willamette and historic McKenzie rivers. The restoration has already provided benefits to Chinook salmon, Red-legged frogs, Western Meadowlarks, and many more native species.

Ten years ago, the McKenzie River Trust was able to purchase 865 acres of land from the Green family, who had a vision for a restored natural area on farmland that was subject to flooding. Funding for the purchase was provided by the Bonneville Power Administration and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program, Eugene Water and Electric Board, US Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and individual supporters of the Trust.

Green Island is located just west of Coburg, OR at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers. The property is about 15 minutes drive from downtown Eugene or Springfield. For directions visit: https://www.mckenzieriver.org/events/living-river/#directions

Today, the Green Island habitat complex measures nearly 1,100 acres thanks to additional land transactions that have expanded the conserved area.

The McKenzie River Trust frequently hosts small tours and volunteer events on the land, but for the Living River Celebration on Saturday, June 29, an array of offerings will greet visitors interested in nature. “Many people have helped us plant trees, pull weeds, and learn about this place over the last ten years,” says Joe Moll, McKenzie River Trust Executive Director. “While enjoying a walkabout, music, canoeing, tree climbing, and a picnic beside two of our community’s great rivers at the Living River Celebration, you can see some of the changes that have occurred thanks to that support, and help us
think about the next ten years of work to be done.”

The Living River Celebration is sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. The event is free and family friendly. Gates will open at 7am and close at 5pm. The full day of activities on the land includes:

  • Exploring nearly 7 miles of trails. Points of interest throughout the Island will tell the story of this special place where wildflowers bloom, salmon hide, turtles bask, and volunteers plant trees, restoring the floodplain forest.
  • Free guided walks all day. Choices include: early morning Bird Walks, an Ethnobotany Walk, two Green Island Restoration Tours, an Amphibian and Reptile Walk with Dr. Tom Titus, a Dragonfly & Damselfly Walk with Cary Kerst, a Nature Tour with Bruce Newhouse and Peg Boulay, and a Native Plant and Herb Walk with Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Canoeing and Kayaking: Explore a bit of a historic McKenzie River channel on the water. Try paddling a canoe or kayak for free, offered by Oregon Paddle Sports.
  • Tree Climbing: Get a bird’s-eye view by climbing up into a cedar tree with the experts from the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute.
  • Music: The Blue McKenzie (11am-12pm) acoustic trio returns to Green Island. Then from 1-3pm, The Whiskey Chasers will bring their bluegrass-old-time-country, grassytonk-dance-stomp to the stage.
  • Oakshire Brewing will join in the celebration by serving their Watershed IPA. Through Oakshire’s 1% for Watersheds program, the brewery is donating 1% of all sales of Watershed IPA in the Southern Willamette Valley in 2013 to the McKenzie River Trust.
  • Food: Sammitch Food Cart will serve up their unique local fare. So Delicious Dairy Free will also be giving away frozen treats. Or you can bring your own picnic. You can also fill up your water bottle with fresh water from McKenzie Mist.
  • Booths: Learn about the history of Green Island, the work of the McKenzie River Trust, partner organizations and lots more at The Hub’s educational booths. Booths include: McKenzie River Trust; McKenzie Watershed Council; Long Tom Watershed Council; Siuslaw Watershed Council; Middle Fork Watershed Council; Mountain Rose Herbs; Eugene Water and Electric Board; Terra Tech; McKenzie River History with the University of Oregon Environmental Leadership Program and McKenzie River Mobile Museum; Hands-On Nature with David Walp’s amazing touch & feel mammal specimen collection; and Karma’s Forest Native Nursery with examples of the native plants used to restore Green Island’s habitat.

For more information about the Living River Celebration, visit: https://www.mckenzieriver.org/events/living-river/.

About the McKenzie River Trust:
The mission of the McKenzie River Trust (MRT) is to protect and care for special lands and the rivers the flow through them in western Oregon. Formed in 1989, MRT is committed to a future in which intact, functioning ecosystems provide clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and productive natural landscapes throughout western Oregon. In the year 2000, MRT expanded its service area from a focus solely on the McKenzie watershed, the source of Eugene and Springfield’s drinking water. Today, MRT works in the watersheds of the McKenzie, Long Tom, Upper Willamette, Coast and Middle Forks of the Willamette, Umpqua, Siuslaw, and coastal streams and lakes from Reedsport to Yachats. Throughout its history, MRT has worked with landowners and diverse partnerships to protect, forever, over 3,650 acres of special lands in western Oregon. Green Island, a 1,100-acre property at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, is MRT’s largest protected property.

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Willamette Weed Removal Project is Underway

McKenzie River Trust is a Key Partner in the Effort to Remove Ivy Infestations

As people from Eugene/Springfield take to the Willamette River on hot afternoons this summer, they might get a glimpse at an innovative partnership that’s cleaning up some familiar Lane County boat landings and private lands.

Six non-profit organizations and public agencies are working together to remove key infestations of invasive English ivy and other weeds, and the results may be noticeable to area boaters, anglers, and those enjoying a swim or float down the river.

Crews from the Northwest Youth Corps are at the center of the weed removal efforts along the Willamette this month. High school students, led by trained crew leaders, are pulling and digging out ivy on Hileman Landing County Park and several state parks including Christensen’s Boat Ramp, Marshall Island Boat Ramp, and Beacon Landing. The crews are also working on Green Island, owned by the McKenzie River Trust, and other private lands nearby.

“English ivy is present throughout the Willamette River corridor, and it is contributing to the loss of floodplain forest by smothering native ground vegetation and choking trees,” said Nicole Nielsen-Pincus, Willamette Program Manager for the McKenzie River Trust and a coordinator of the multi-partner effort. “We’re lucky to have a great river to enjoy right in our backyard, and the areas of floodplain forest and back water channels provide essential habitat for native Chinook salmon, western pond turtles, migratory birds and other species of concern. That’s why these conservation efforts are so important.”

Due to disturbances from flood events and recreational use of waterways, river corridors are especially vulnerable to the establishment of ivy and other weeds. Rivers such as the Willamette are a pathway for the spread of weeds, making early detection and response essential.

A grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Oregon Governor’s Fund for the Environment is providing funding for the six partners to do outreach and education and offer technical assistance to 16 public and private landowners. Funding was also provided by the Oregon Department of State Lands and Lane County. The Long Tom Watershed Council and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department are providing technical support and on-the-ground assistance. The total project will cost about $52,000.

“This is a great partnership that brings together not only diverse organizations, but also private citizens and local youth,” said Scott Youngblood, a Park Ranger with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and another project leader. “The result of this work will be immediately noticeable to recreational users of these river front properties.”

Along with ivy, other weeds that will be targeted for removal include purple loosestrife, Japanese knotweed, and traveler’s joy.  “The target species in this project are capable of dramatic growth, and their removal will both benefit floodplain habitat and increase the scenic qualities Oregonians have come to love along the Willamette River,” Youngblood said.

The partnership intends to continue on-the-ground work through 2013, with the Long Tom Watershed Council and McKenzie River Trust doing outreach to private landowners to identify additional project sites this year. Willamette River landowners with a significant invasion of invasive species who would like to learn more about the project are invited to call Nicole Nielsen-Pincus, Willamette Program Manager with the McKenzie River Trust at 541-345-2799.

An article about these efforts appeared in the August 2, 2012 issue of the Register-Guard newspaper. Read the article.

McKenzie River Trust staff featured in Eugene Magazine

Ryan Ruggiero recently celebrated 4 years as the McKenzie River Trust Land Protection Manager.

Our Land Protection Manager, Ryan Ruggiero, has been teaching an Introduction to Wetlands class for the University of Oregon Department of Landscape Architecture this term. Journalist Suzi Steffen joined Ryan and his class on a field trip to the Coyote Spencer Wetlands in April to learn more about the property, wetlands, and Ryan’s history with the UO.

Here’s the resulting article from the Summer issue of Eugene Magazine.

Click on the image to view a hig-resolution pdf of the article from the Summer 2012 issue of Eugene Magazine.