Landowners donate 91-acre forest easement

"Our vision for Woodpecker Ridge is not to have it just be a wild refuge," says landowner Max Gessert, who recently worked with his wife Kate to donate a conservation easement to the McKenzie River Trust. "We also want the forest to be a place where humans can be part of the land."

As you walk through the forest and farmland protected in the Woodpecker Ridge Conservation Easement near Crow, mature conifer trees tower above while your feet squish into the rich floodplain of Trout Creek. Passing tall oak groves, you reach a small wetland. A flock of sheep grazes in the farm fields. It’s easy to see why Kate and Max Gessert wanted to protect this special place.

Kate, an English as a Second Language teacher at Lane Community College, and Max, an artist and writer, donated a 91-acre conservation easement to the McKenzie River Trust in May. Grant funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act helped pay for some of the transaction expenses.

Landowners Kate and Max Gessert.

After living on 20 acres of the property for a few years, the Gesserts learned that the second-growth forest next door was owned by a timber company and about to be cut, so they bought it. “We first talked with the McKenzie River Trust about an easement about 10 years ago,” says Max. “We wanted to protect the land, but there were some staff changes and it was easy to put off. Many years went by. Then I was diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly, all kinds of issues became foregrounded. We began thinking about lots of things we had considered before that hadn’t been finished.”

Red-legged frogs, pileated woodpeckers, yellow-breasted chat and other sensitive fish and wildlife species are likely to benefit from the land’s protection. In keeping with the Gesserts’ Forest Stewardship Certification of the land, the easement allows for limited, sustainable forest harvest.

Nicole Nielsen-Pincus, MRT’s Willamette Program Manager, emphasizes that customized legal agreements can meet landowner needs while protecting critical habitat. “In working with Kate and Max to develop this easement, I learned how much this forest means to them,” says Nicole. “Conservation easements are as unique as the landscapes they protect, and we’re grateful that future wildlife and people will coexist on Woodpecker Ridge and be protected.”

Here at the McKenzie River Trust, we are also grateful to you, our supporters, for your help in bringing conservation agreements like this one to life.

“There are many ways we all try to take care of the world,” says Kate. “But it’s hard to know which ones will work. This seemed like something effective we could do.”

Ties to the Land

Seminar Explores Conservation Easements in Succession Planning

Kate and Max Gessert, who protected their forest near the town of Crow with a conservation easement, will speak during the seminar about their experience working with the McKenzie River Trust to permanently protect their land.

Passing your family’s land on to the next generation is a process with financial, legal, and emotional dimensions. It’s an essential – but often overlooked – element of estate planning.

Oregon State University Extension Service and the McKenzie River Trust are offering a special session of the Ties to the Land succession planning program on Saturday, October 20 from 9am to 12pm to help families learn about conservation easements as an element of estate planning.

About the seminar

Willamette Program Manager Nicole Nielsen-Pincus will co-present a free seminar on conservation easements on Saturday, October 20.

Conservation easements are a valuable tool for landowners who would like to protect their land for future generations, and they can also be an important tool in helping landowners pass their land on to another generation. This 3 hour session will give a brief introduction to basic conceptual and legal underpinnings of easements, their scope, flexibility, and the types of organizations that hold conservation easements. Then, we will look at a local example with Nicole Nielsen-Pincus of the McKenzie River Trust. Nicole will discuss the McKenzie River Trust’s mission, the conservation opportunities the organization seeks, and how MRT works with private landowners to explore and establish an easement. Finally, local conservation easement landowners Kate and Max Gessert will share their thoughts on the process. We will conclude with a facilitated discussion.

Please join us for an informative presentation and engaging discussion about conservation easements and succession planning.

Details

When: Saturday, October 20 from 9 am to 12 pm
Where:
Willamalane Community Center, Heron Room, 250 S. 32nd St., Springfield, Oregon (just south of Main St. near ODF Eastern Lane)
Cost & Registration: This class if FREE, but pre-registration is required. To register, please email Jody Einerson (jody.einerson@oregonstate.edu) or call the Benton County Extension Office (541) 766-6750.

2011 Annual Report Available Now

Annual report highlights:

  • Ferguson Creek Conservation Easement established in the Long Tom Watershed – 62 acres of meandering streamside habitat protected.
  • $1.01 million in grants and contracts secured for land conservation projects by MRT staff.
  • Continued restoration on Green Island, including planting more than 5,300 native trees to restore the floodplain forest.
  • A 21% increase in the number of people who made a donation to MRT from 2010 to 2011.

Read the full report on our Annual Report page, or download a pdf (2 MB).

The health of our local communities is reflected in the health of the natural areas that surround us. Thank you for your donations to support land conservation in western Oregon!

If you have any questions about our Annual Report, please contact our office at 541-345-2799.

Connect with the Land

Connect with the Land

Get outside! Our guided tours are a great way to learn about the natural world, meet our staff and Board members, and experience the McKenzie River Trust’s protected landscapes for yourself. Tours are guided by community experts in natural history, native plants, birds, and other areas of interest, along with McKenzie River Trust staff. Tours are free, and they’re open to friends old and new. Please join us by signing up today!

Upcoming Tours

Saturday, April 28, 1 – 4pm: Spring at Hollyer Prairie
Saturday, May 5, 10am – 2pm: Native Plants of the Lower McKenzie
Thursday, May 17, 8am – 11am: Birds of Green Island
Saturday, May 19, 9am – 12pm: Picturing Birds and Buds – Photo Tour of the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area

Tours are generally limited to 15 people, and they often fill quickly! If a tour is full, please contact Liz at 541-345-2799 or llawrence (at) mckenzieriver.org and we will gladly add you to the wait list.

For volunteer opportunities, community events, and other ways to get involved with the McKenzie River Trust, visit our Events page.

 

Spring at Hollyer Prairie

Saturday, April 28 from 1 to 4pm

The 59-acre Hollyer Prairie Conservation Easement includes many natural wonders: upland and wet prairie, oak savanna and woodland, riparian forest, and even a population of rare lupines!  Come on an afternoon exploration of the property with landowner Helen Hollyer and naturalists Peg Boulay and Bruce Newhouse to uncover some secrets of spring. We’ll look for flowers on the lupines, camas and lomatium in the wetlands, and migrating songbirds in the forest — as well as anything else that catches group interest. This is a unique opportunity to see a wide variety of habitats on private property on upper Camas Swale Creek.

Register here for Spring at Hollyer Prairie

Protecting Special Lands Video

Take 3 minutes to watch a video about our work protecting special lands and the rivers that flow through them in western Oregon.

Please consider making a donation to help us continue our work!

As our region grows, so must our conservation efforts. We hope you will join us as a supporter of the McKenzie River Trust.

An Investment in Time and Place

The Tenmile Creek watershed south of Yachats is one of western Oregon’s most treasured places. Surrounded by Wilderness Areas, the watershed is part of the largest coastal temperate rainforest remaining in the lower 48 states. Filled with towering Sitka spruce that harbor spotted owls and marbled murrelets and coastal streams that still support strong runs of native salmon, trout, and lamprey, Tenmile is a window to a more abundant past in the Coast Range.

“I used to catch a lot of fish here,” Hans Radtke admits with a wry smile. Continue reading “An Investment in Time and Place”

62 Acres Near the Long Tom Grange Now Protected

The Hagen family on their property southwest of Monroe, Oregon

We’re excited to announce that the Hagen family has entered in to a Conservation Easement with the McKenzie River Trust, protecting 62 acres of their land southwest of Monroe.

“I have always felt Ferguson Creek was really special,” said landowner Trey Hagen, who grew up in the area and still has family that lives close by. Continue reading “62 Acres Near the Long Tom Grange Now Protected”