Native Oaks Ridge Protected!

326-acres are 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 Carnine’s 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.

Improving Access to popular McKenzie River put-in

More changes coming to Finn Rock Boat Landing

Your support for conservation of 278-acre Finn Rock Reach has many payoffs, in clean water, flood resilience, and enhanced salmon spawning habitat. But the most visible public benefit is improvement of the boat landing used by hundreds of McKenzie River enthusiasts every summer day.

In 2018 MRT installed vault toilets at the site. In the works are better parking, safer and more efficient traffic flow, and new signage. Thank you to our McKenzie Homewaters Campaign donors and to our supporters at Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Bonneville Power Administration, EWEB and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for making it possible.

Protect your habitat at home and along the rivers you love

Here’s a special offer you don’t want to miss.

Local design/remodeling company Neil Kelly is partnering with Clean Energy Works Oregon to offer FREE home energy audits and solar evaluations. And Neil Kelly will donate $100 to the McKenzie River Trust for everyone who signs up.

Here’s how it works:

1. Apply: Click here to fill out a brief form on the Clean Energy Works Oregon website, and get going right away.

2. Assess: A representative from Neil Kelly will contact you to schedule your free home energy assessment. Then MRT receives a donation of $100 for every assessment completed!

3. Transform: Neil Kelly will walk you through your options for saving money and making your home more comfortable with improved insulation, duct sealing, upgraded windows, solar energy and more. There is no obligation to buy.

So go ahead, give $100 without spending a penny!

Sign up for your FREE HOME ENERGY AUDIT now:
Visit http://my.cleanenergyworksoregon.org/apply/?referral_code=CNNLKMRT

Sign up for your FREE SOLAR EVALUATION now:
Visit http://www.neilkelly.com/
Enter code: McKenzieRiver

Running for the River

A Washington DC man runs a marathon and raises money in memory of his step-father

A fundraiser in memory of river-lover Timmy O’Grady, pictured here at center, continues through July 31. Timmy is shown here rafting the McKenzie.

Steven Putansu was looking for a way to memorialize his step-father, who died last summer after a sudden and short illness. Timmy O’Grady was only 52 years old.

“I wanted to do something good in his name,” Steven said.

“Timmy truly loved spending time in the woods, being in nature, and getting that fresh Oregon air. When he and my mom moved to live along the McKenzie, Timmy felt he’d accomplished his life’s dream.”

Steven, who lives in Washington DC, decided to run the Foot Traffic Flat marathon in Oregon in memory of his step-father on July 4, 2012, near the one year anniversary of Timmy’s death. “People run marathons for causes all the time, so I thought I could turn this into something to remember Timmy.” Through a google search, Steven found the McKenzie River Trust. “It was a perfect fit. Timmy wasn’t an environmentalist, but he loved being outside, getting lost in the woods, and he loved the river. What he would want with every fiber of his being was that this land and this river would stay as it is for as long as it could.”

Steven began training for the marathon in February while working full time and writing his PhD dissertation in Public Administration. He’s been keeping a blog about his training runs and sharing memories of Timmy. “When I’ve got a story about Timmy in my mind, the blog is a good way to get that out,” says Steven. “Running relieves some of the stress and reduces the sadness, too.”

“Timmy was probably my most important role model. He was a truck driver, one of the best drivers out there, and one of 14 siblings. I haven’t followed exactly in his footsteps, but my whole life I’ve tried to emulate the man Timmy was.”

On July 9, 2012, Steven Putansu, second from right, and his family planted a native Oregon ash tree at the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area. The tree, planted for Timmy O’Grady, will serve as a living memorial.

Steven has raised $2,829 for the McKenzie River Trust, exceeding his goal of $100 for every mile of the marathon. “When it comes down to it,” Steven said, “Timmy loved just being near the river.” Now Steven’s efforts and the donations of his friends and family will help protect and care for the place that Timmy cherished.

Update: Steven completed the marathon in 4:20. On July 9, 2012, the one year anniversary of Timmy’s death, Steven and his family planted a native Oregon ash tree at the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area. The tree will serve as a living memory to Timmy. Steven will continue accepting donations for his fundraiser through July 31 at http://www.active.com/donate/McKenzieRiverTrust/R4R

Visit Steven’s running blog: runningfortheriver.blogspot.com

Would you like to run a marathon for land conservation like Steven?

Or maybe you’re celebrating an anniversary, planning a wedding, or would like to honor someone special by raising money in their name. With your own online fundraising page, it’s easy to reach out to family and friends. We can help. For more information, contact Brandi Ferguson, Development Manager: 541-345-2799 or brandi@mckenzieriver.org.