Community Conservation

With your support, we’re connecting people to place, and people to people at Finn Rock Reach

For the McKenzie River community, Finn Rock Reach provides more than a critical habitat; it is a place to grow connections. Among the 278-acre riparian floodplain forest, you find a diversity of wildlife, plants, and opportunities to connect with the spirit and history of the site.

Former Logging Camp residents, Linda, David and Irene pause for a photo on Quartz Creek Bridge in 1948

Finn Rock Reach brings people together. From the logging camp that the land was home to from the 1940s-80s to the old McKenzie High School cross country course that encircled river right to the hundreds of people who have gathered to share their stories and inspirations since MRT bought the land in 2016, this place elicits unique connections. Thanks to members like you, we are able to help grow those ties to the land.

While listening to those who have lived, played, and worked at Finn Rock Reach, at times we were surprised by what we heard. In 2017, more than 100 people weighed in on a public survey about how the site might be managed, and multiple community listening sessions brought in the voices of nearly 50 participants. Hundreds more visited the property for educational tours of the boat landing, logging camp site, ponds, and salmon spawning grounds. In a reflection of the spirit of community, we heard an overwhelming desire for opportunities to care directly for this special area through stewardship workdays.

Since that time, thanks to the strong support of members and volunteers, more than 100 people have gotten their hands dirty through education programs, group projects, and the Friends of Finn Rock Reach group. The Friends group alone has contributed more than 500 hours this year, meeting regularly on the first Friday of each month to connect with the land and connect with each other.

“I like the work and being involved in the stewardship, but one aspect I had not anticipated valuing (or even having) is the creation of community around Finn Rock Reach, notes Sarah Hunter, a Blue River resident who lives just upstream of the property. “I always get to meet someone from my community that I would not otherwise have met, and these connections are good for me, the community, and [the land].”

This community extends beyond the members of the Friends group. With a rich history of partnership between the McKenzie School District and the former owners at Rosboro Lumber Company, McKenzie River Trust was called to support educational opportunities for local students, a role we have had little experience with as an organization. With encouragement from our members and by collaborating with the McKenzie Watershed Council and local Science Teacher Nate Day, Finn Rock Reach has become a site for the exploration of earth and life sciences right in the community’s’ backyard. Providing this space for students to learn, experiment, and grow has elevated the impact of protecting this land; the habitat and animals are protected in perpetuity, and now we are helping grow those who will care for it long after we are gone.

So Just What is a Land Trust Anyway?

Green Island is a place protected by us, your local land trust! Photo by Tim Giraudier – Beautiful Oregon.
As we gear up for Get Outdoors Day alongside 12 other land trusts across Oregon, we are starting to hear a question repeated over and over. What’s a land trust?

When you join us on Green Island or at one of our other many events on the land, you will be standing on land protected by McKenzie River Trust. We are one of more than 1,700 non-profit land trusts around the country. Collectively, land trusts have protected over 47 million acres of wildlife habitat, working farms, forests, wetlands, trails, scenic vistas, parks, and community gardens!

What’s a Land Trust?

A land trust is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect, preserve, and steward special lands by working with willing landowners and various community partners.

The two most widely used tools to accomplish this mission are conservation easements and fee-title purchase. In the case of Green Island, the Green family wished to see this land remain undeveloped, so they sold the property to MRT in 2003. Whatever tool is used to conserve land, most importantly, a landowner gets the assurance of knowing that the place she loves will be cared for by the land trust and its partners forever.

Oregon’s Land Trusts

Nootka rose is one of many native plants found on lands protected by the McKenzie River Trust. Photo by Tim Giraudier – Beautiful Oregon.
From the coastal estuaries in Nehalem to the magnificent Wallowas, Oregon land trusts work to protect the unique character and beauty of our home. Together, Oregon land trusts have protected 402,523 acres of land. That is nearly four times the amount of land in the Oregon State Parks system!

In every city and town across Oregon, there is a local land trust working to protect and care for that place. Land trusts are accountable to their communities, with local people serving on their boards and volunteering to care for the land. Land trusts are non-regulatory, providing incentives for private landowners to conserve their land for the good of all Oregonians.

How the Land Trust Serves Green Island

Since we acquired Green Island, we’ve been working with many partners to restore what we call a Living River. To us that means river banks and floodplains thick with native trees, grasses, and wildflowers; a river that can meander and move and change over time. It also means clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and great opportunities for people to connect, as you are today. Thanks for being a part of such an effort, something that will long outlive us all.

Land trusts rely on community support, and McKenzie River Trust is no different. Please consider joining us as a member or volunteer today!

Raise a Glass and Celebrate World Water Day

The pristine McKenzie River is the sole source of drinking water for over 200,000 people in Eugene and Springfield. Photo by Tim Giraudier / Beautiful Oregon.

World Water Day is Thursday, March 22. And as our executive director Joe Moll says, “There is one thing that we can all agree on: clean water is good for fish, wildlife, people, and brewing beer.”

That’s why on March 22, we’re gathering with Ninkasi Brewing Company for Pints for a Cause from 5-8pm at The Bier Stein.

Over 200,000 people rely on the McKenzie as their sole source of drinking water in Eugene and Springfield. And water is the #1 ingredient in Ninkasi’s award winning beer. Join us to raise a glass to the rivers we love and share!

We’re teaming up with Ninkasi Brewing and The Bier Stein to raise awareness about something we all care about deeply: protecting and caring for the lands and rivers in western Oregon so there is clean, fresh water available for generations.

Join Us on World Water Day

For every Ninkasi bottle, can, or draught beer sold at the Bier Stein on March 22, Ninkasi will donate $1 to McKenzie River Trust — all day long. The Bier Stein will match their donation up to $500! On draught: Believer, Yours Truly, Dry Irish Stout, and Prismatic. And from 5 to 8pm for a minimum $5 donation, Ninkasi will make you a custom hat!

“Without great water, we couldn’t have great beer,” said Ali AAsum, communications director with Ninkasi Brewing Company. “We’re lucky to have access to pristine waters such as the McKenzie River and to work with people like the McKenzie River Trust who are committed to keeping our river and our people healthy.”

The World Water Day fundraiser with McKenzie Trust is part of Ninkasi’s Beer is Love program to support nonprofits doing work in five core categories — women, equality, recreation, the environment, and arts and music — by offering beer donations for fundraising or volunteer events.

RSVP and see who else is coming on March 22

Invisible Rivers

In 2009, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board provided support for McKenzie River Trust to create this poster about the function and value of hyporheic zones in rivers. Hyporheic zones are river flows under and adjacent to river channels where riverwater and groundwater meet. When we protect floodplain lands like Green Island, Finn Rock, and Waite Ranch we are ensuring these hyporheic zones remain intact and healthy, providing numerous benefits for ecosystems and people.

Click the image to view full size.
Poster design by Ryan Ruggiero, MRT Land Protection Manager from 2008-2014

Cerro Gordo Protected

531 acres of prairie, fir and hardwood forest, and a prominent rocky butte outside Cottage Grove are permanently protected in the Cerro Gordo Conservation Easement. Photo by Eric Alan.

“Do what’s right for the land.” It’s an ethos that the people who have lived at Cerro Gordo have taken to heart. Today, thanks to their foresight and dedication, glimmering Willamette Valley prairie, healthy oak and conifer forest, and a prominent rocky butte near Cottage Grove are all protected for conservation. However, it hasn’t been an easy or straightforward path.

In 1974 a visionary group of people led by the late Chris Canfield bought 1,165 acres of forests and meadows above Dorena Lake with the goal of creating a village in harmony with nature. While the original plan never fully materialized, a dedicated core remained committed to conserving this special place.

The Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy, led by board members Jim Stevenson (president), Don Nordin, Eric Alan, and Suzanne Huebner-Sannes, is now proud to celebrate a conservation easement in partnership with the McKenzie River Trust on 531 acres of this land adjacent to Dorena Lake.

Cerro Gordo as seen from across Dorena Lake near Cottage Grove. The prominent rocky butte is now permanently protected for conservation. Photo by MRT staff.

A Different Tool

“We see land conservation and restoration as the primary goal,” says Eric Alan, resident and Conservancy board member. “This easement keeps with the initial vision of Cerro Gordo, and yet it’s a completely different tool than was envisioned in the beginning.”

Cerro Gordo boasts a stunning diversity of habitat types and plant communities throughout its landscape. The property has exceptional native grass diversity and several notable populations of rare and threatened plants, including shaggy horkelia, timwort, tall bugbane, Roemer’s fescue and yellow monkeyflower.

“Every acre is really different,” says Scott Ferguson of Trout Mountain Forestry, who has been working with the people of Cerro Gordo to manage the working forests since 1986. “The quality of the prairies is significant and the conifer habitat is really diverse, too.”

In 2012 a Healthy Forests Reserve Program conservation easement was secured on another 447 acres of Cerro Gordo forestland through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Together, these easements comprise nearly 1,000 acres of contiguous, protected habitat. “It’s a pretty substantial bit of conservation in a key part of the southern Willamette Valley,” Alan says.

Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy members Mary Addams, Shirley Froyd, Suzanne Huebner-Sannes, Charlie Sannes, Eric Alan, Jim Stevenson, Greta Loeffelbein, and Don Nordin. Photo by Eric Alan.

Unique People and a Unique Place

“The property is amazing, but the human element is probably the most unique part of this project. Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy members are on-site stewards,” says Ferguson. “In my work I haven’t met anyone with a more profound connection to place than the people behind Cerro Gordo.”

The Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy looks forward to engaging the community on this special land in the future. They can be reached at P.O. Box 192, Cottage Grove, OR 97424.

This project was funded in part by a grant from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Bonneville Power Administration’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program. Key partners in this conservation success include Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy, the Cerro Gordo landowners, Trout Mountain Forestry and McKenzie River Trust.

A Message From Joe Moll


 
Last night, we hosted another sell-out crowd of over 500 people for a particularly special McKenzie Memories event. In addition to looking back over the last century, to remind ourselves of the vision and hard work and sacrifice of the people who came before us, we very much looked forward, with a shared vision about what we want the McKenzie, our Homewaters, to be like 10, 50, and 100 years from now. Last night, in addition to inviting everyone to immerse themselves in the history of lodges, and river trips, and the remarkable water cycle of the McKenzie River itself, we invited our community to commit to helping us reach to goals of the McKenzie Homewaters Campaign.


 
After working quietly for over a year, last night we launched the public phase of the McKenzie Homewaters Campaign. We seek to bring $6 million to bear on the health of the river by the time the campaign ends at midnight, New Years Eve 2017. The campaign centers on three goals:

  • Conserving clean drinking water.
  • Protecting salmon habitat.
  • Preserving river access.

What will we do with the $6 million?

  • We will pay down the $1.5 million loan we took out to acquire the Finn Rock Reach properties.
  • We will put another $2 million aside for new land deals that protect other special lands riverlands in the McKenzie basin as the opportunities arise.
  • We will gather over $1 million to enhance habitats, giving the river more room to roam, making places less suitable for largemouth bass, and more suitable for native McKenzie Redsides rainbow trout and Chinook salmon. This will also give us the ability to make improvements at the Finn Rock Boat Landing, and perhaps in the years ahead construct a trail through the site of the old Finn Rock Logging Camp adjacent to it.
  • And we will put aside more than $1 million to care for these lands long term, to build on the culture of land and water stewardship that thrives throughout the watershed.

Now, I must say, we’ve been quietly working on securing these funds already. In fact there were many people in the room last night who have already given or made commitments to the campaign. Starting with a tremendous $100,000 contribution just one year ago, immediately following last year’s McKenzie Memories event, we have secured gifts, grants, and pledges of (nearly) $4 million.


 
We want to particularly thank the Oregon Community Foundation for the help they have given to this campaign, and the guidance they afford the families who have the means to contribute philanthropically to the betterment of Oregon, including tremendous early gifts to our campaign.

We are also extremely fortunate in this community to have not only the McKenzie River, but also forward thinking water utilities, Eugene Water and Electric Board and Springfield Utility Board especially, to care for and deliver these resources to our homes and businesses. I’ve said before that the McKenzie River Trust would not be where it is today without the steadfast support and encouragement from EWEB staff and Board members over the last two decades. For the Finn Rock Reach project and this campaign, once again EWEB stepped up immediately to help us assess and secure the Rosboro lands with a $250,000 grant. But they are doing much more for this campaign as well.

Last night, EWEB Commissioner John Brown joined me on stage to announce a special challenge opportunity for the campaign. For every $1 you give, EWEB will match that, dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 through December 31.

Our deepest gratitude to John and his fellow forward-thinking EWEB commissioners, who decided to offer up this grant and challenge opportunity. They recognize that we can keep our drinking water clean by protecting the lands that cradle this river, or by adding chemicals to clean it up after it gets dirty. Far more efficient to keep it clean to begin with. This campaign is an important way to do just that.

Whether or not you were in the audience last night, by being a member or a friend of the McKenzie River Trust, you are already announcing that you love this river, you love this place and its history, and you want to make sure that your grandchildren and their grandchildren can have it to love and cherish and care for as well.


 
We are hopeful that over the course of this campaign, your love will swell and your commitment will deepen. We hope that you will do what Jeff Ziller advised in the campaign video we premiered last night: get out in the field with us, help with your hands, help with your pocketbook. If you have an itch to donate right now, then do so through this link. But you can also ask for more information. I’d like you to consider reaching out to one of the MRT staff or Board members or campaign leaders; let us know that you want to learn more. Or join us on a field trip to the old Finn Rock Logging Camp next weekend. Then in the coming weeks and months we can sit down with you and your friends and colleagues or walk in the field with you and them to introduce you further to the project at Finn Rock and opportunities elsewhere in the watershed.

Campaign co-chairs Dave Funk and Hugh Prichard with MRT executive director Joe Moll. Photo by Jon C Meyers.

I’d love for you to think deeply about how much these Homewaters mean to you, and how transformational a gift you’d consider making. As our Honorary Campaign chair Barry Lopez said to us on the McKenzie Memories stage last year, when it comes to being a good resident of this place, whether your family has been here for 5 generations or you just moved here last week, isn’t the most important thing that we love this river, our Homewaters? Of course you can show your love for a person or a place or an organization in many ways. We welcome them all, from all.

Thank you for considering a gift to this campaign.

–Joe Moll, executive director of McKenzie River Trust since 2005

McKenzie Homewaters Campaign News Release

A side channel of the McKenzie River flows through Finn Rock Reach, the centerpiece of the $6 million McKenzie Homewaters Campaign. Photo by Tim Giraudier / Beautiful Oregon.

Contact:
Liz Lawrence, McKenzie River Trust, 541-844-9334 cell, 541-345-2799 office
Pat Walsh, Vox PRPA, 541-513-1236

April 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

McKenzie River Trust To Launch The McKenzie Homewaters Campaign

EUGENE, Ore. — McKenzie River Trust will launch The McKenzie Homewaters Campaign to raise $6 million to fund initiatives to protect, conserve, and restore the McKenzie River’s Finn Rock Reach. The Homewaters Campaign will be announced during the McKenzie River Trust’s Sixth Annual McKenzie Memories evening on Fri., April 7, 2017, at Venue 252. The event begins at 7 pm.

“The McKenzie River is a special place that provides life to our communities as a source for clean drinking water, recreation, and habitat for salmon and wildlife,” said Dave Funk of bell+funk and co-chair of the campaign. “The opportunity to ensure a place like Finn Rock Reach is cared for does not come along very often, and the Homewaters Campaign lets us take care of the river that takes care of us.”

In 2015, McKenzie River Trust bought Finn Rock Reach from Rosboro forest products company following a closed-bid auction. The property comprises two miles of land fronting both sides of the McKenzie River, including the popular Finn Rock Boat Landing and the former Finn Rock Logging Camp. McKenzie River Trust used funds from its own Land Protection Fund and a bridge loan for conservation projects to buy the property.

“Funds raised from the campaign will allow McKenzie River Trust to own Finn Rock Reach debt-free and provide the resources necessary to restore and care for it today and in the long-term.” said Hugh Prichard, Prichard Partners, campaign co-chair. “Also, campaign resources will be set aside so the Trust is ready to expand its conservation footprint in the McKenzie Valley as appropriate opportunities present themselves.”

In support of the Trust, Eugene Water & Electric Board will match dollar for dollar the first $500,000 donated to the campaign by Dec. 31, 2017.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to contribute in significant ways to EWEB’s stewardship of the McKenzie River,” said Dick Helgeson, president of the Eugene Water & Electric Board of Commissioners. “To be able to partner with McKenzie River Trust to protect these special lands and the vital water that runs through them is a unique and worthy undertaking for this utility.”

More information about the Homewaters Campaign, including the EWEB matching program, can be found at: mckenzieriver.org/homewaters/

The McKenzie Memories evening is an annual celebration of the history of the McKenzie River. This year’s event features storytelling by Steve Schaefers, Don Wouda, and Dana Burwell from the McKenzie River Guides Association. Gordon Grant, a former river guide, hydrologist, and “water guru” will weave tales of the McKenzie’s unique geology.

There will be a memorial tribute to legendary McKenzie River Guide Dave Helfrich, who died in October 2016, at age 84. Helfrich was known as the consummate outdoorsman, boatman, fisherman, Northwest rivers advocate, and innovator for improving design of the equipment used on the river.

“It is only right that the Homewaters Campaign begins at the Trust’s McKenzie Memories evening,” said Joe Moll, executive director, McKenzie River Trust. “It is a time when we honor our past, celebrate the present, and build to the future.”

Tickets to McKenzie Memories evening are sold out. The event will be live streamed at: facebook.com/McKenzieRiverTrust.

About the McKenzie River Trust:
The McKenzie River Trust is a nonprofit land trust based in Eugene, Oregon. Our mission is to help people protect and care for the lands and rivers they cherish in western Oregon. Since 1989, we’ve acquired property and voluntary conservation easements to protect nearly 5,000 acres of clean, free-flowing rivers, plentiful salmon runs, and vibrant farms and forests that provide livelihoods and habitat. We envision a future in which conservation lands are at the core of community efforts to sustain clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and diverse natural resource economies in western Oregon. Working with private willing landowners in eight different watersheds from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, we take on the responsibility of ensuring that the land and its conservation values will be protected forever. For more information, visit www.mckenzieriver.org.

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New quilt showcases McKenzie River Watershed


“My family and I have been boating on the McKenzie River since 1981 and we love this place,” says Mary Nyquist Koons, a member of the McKenzie River Trust with her husband, James, since 2009. “As members of the Trust we discovered we could help protect this beautiful, sacred river and land with a financial gift. We hope others will join us.”

After touring MRT’s Finn Rock Reach property last fall and watching salmon spawning in their homewaters, Mary began thinking about this special place in a different way. “The stretch of river at Finn Rock is one of my favorite places in all of Oregon – and I wanted to understand how it related to the rest of the watershed.”

“I love maps, I love the McKenzie River and I love quilts. So I thought, why not put them all together?”

First Mary studied a BLM map that MRT executive director Joe Moll lent her; the river was so small that it was hard to find in places. “It’s easy to see the relationship of the rivers on this quilt map. The process of translating the map into textiles was a visual and tactile experience for me. This project gave me the chance to understand how these places fit within the bigger picture of the watershed. Now when I’m in the field, I know where I am.”

“This quilt is my gift of hope for the preservation and celebration of the McKenzie River. I hope it’s something that MRT can use to share with others to help them visually understand the river through art.” Quilt maps are a bit unusual in the quilt world. “This quilt is a great combination of what I know and love. I sew. I boat. I drink the water.”

The McKenzie River Watershed quilt hangs in the MRT office. Feel free to stop by and take in the many intricate details of place that are sewn into this beautiful art piece.

Double Your Gift

Join or Renew: Donate Now!

Every gift in March will go twice as far thanks to our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs who are offering a $10,000 Match Gift Challenge. Update, March 28: We met the match! Now help us reach our stretch goal of $15,000.

Our Goal: 1,000 Members in 2017

In 2017 we’re aiming to grow our membership to over 1,000. Will you help us reach that goal by joining as a member today or renewing your membership?

Membership support is the lifeblood of the McKenzie River Trust. Your contributions give us the legs we need to get out and work with landowners. You help pull scot’s broom from the ground and replace it with big leaf maple, red osier dogwood, and ocean spray. Members both lead and join in our naturalist walks across fields, through forests, and over gravel bars. Perhaps most importantly, membership is a way to gather with others who share a love for the lands and rivers that stitch together the communities of western Oregon.

$10,000 Match Gift Challenge

Mountain Rose Herbs is challenging our members and those considering joining us by putting up $10,000 in matching funds for all membership gifts in March 2017. Give now, and your donation will be DOUBLED for land conservation in western Oregon!

Update, March 28: We met the match! Now help us reach our stretch goal of $15,000. Less than $4,000 to go.

For more information about the Match Gift Challenge, please contact Julia Sherwood, Membership Coordinator, at 541-345-2799 x107 or julia@mckenzieriver.org.

Beers Made By Walking returns to Eugene

Photo by Trask Bedortha

Drink up the land. That’s what four local breweries and a cidery are hoping you’ll do on December 1st when Beers Made By Walking (BMBW) returns for a Eugene-based release party at The Bier Stein and The Tap & Growler.

This summer we’ve again worked with BMBW to invite brewers to create place-based beers inspired by plants found on nature walks on MRT properties.

The public walks this summer on three places protected by MRT in the southern Willamette Valley taught people about native and invasive plants, in addition to private land conservation in the area. The brewers have been challenged to create a beer or cider that represents the trails they walked.

This brewers have included a huge range of styles and ingredients in their beers. These experimental beers will be a joy to experience, particularly because they were inspired by the lands MRT members are helping to protect.

The proceeds from the events at The Bier Stein and The Tap & Growler on December 1st will support MRT’s mission.

Participating breweries and cidery include:
Agrarian Ales, Claim 52 Brewing, Falling Sky Brewing, Oakshire Brewing, and Wildcraft Cider Works. Additional support was provided by Ninkasi Brewing.

Tapping event details

For more details about the event, including a link to the full beer list, click here.