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.

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

Guided tours and volunteer days on the land are a great way to explore new places and connect with the special lands your donations help to protect. We hope to see you at one of our upcoming events!

Volunteer on Green Island!

Monday July 16 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Get your boots on the ground and your hands dirty volunteering with the McKenzie River Trust’s Green Island Project Manager Chris Vogel. Help care for this unique site. You’ll mulch trees that need protection from the summer heat while learning more about habitat restoration.

Dazzling Dragonflies! Family-friendly tour of Green Island

Friday July 20 from 9 am to 12 pm

What has two pairs of wings, lives near the water, and eats mosquitoes? A dragonfly! Join Steve Gordon and Cary Kerst for a family-oriented dragonfly and damselfly tour of Green Island.

Dragonfly Field Course on Green Island

Friday July 20 from 1 to 4 pm

Join dragonfly experts Steven Gordon and Cary Kerst for an afternoon field course on dragonflies and damselflies. Learn about the life cycle, preferred habitat, and behavior of these fascinating creatures who call Green Island home.

Lower Siuslaw Kayak Tour

Saturday July 28 from 8:30 am to 3 pm

Explore Waite Ranch and the Duncan Island Conservation Easement, conservation lands protected by the McKenzie River Trust between Florence and Mapleton, from a kayak. We’ll spend the day on the Siuslaw Estuary, led by an expert guide from Oregon Paddle Sports. Good physical condition and moderate kayaking experience is required.

Volunteer on Green Island!

Wednesday, August 22 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Get your boots on the ground and your hands dirty volunteering with the McKenzie River Trust’s Green Island Stewardship Technician Dane Moeggenberg and Project Manager Chris Vogel. Help care for this unique site. You’ll build browse protectors for trees planted in the northeast section of the island near the historic McKenzie River channel.

Eugene Celebration Parade

Saturday, August 25  

The Eugene Celebration brings out the best in town, and once again, the McKenzie River Trust will march in the Parade with our giant paper-mache fish! Contact Liz if you’d like to march with us.

Links to these and other events where you’ll find the McKenzie River Trust are always available on our Events page.

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.