Growing Food & Protecting Clean Water

Farming and Conservation on MRT Properties

Many people think of land conservation and farming as opposites. But on properties protected by the McKenzie River Trust, land owners and managers are doing both, balancing our communities’ need for fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, while protecting drinking water, and conserving natural areas where salmon thrive riparian forests tower high above clean flowing rivers. Here are two farms that are doing just that.

Berggren Demonstration Farm – McKenzie Watershed

As you prepare for Thanksgiving dinner this year, know that there’s a new place in town to get your turkey. The Berggren Demonstration Farm is concluding its second year of production this winter. The farm is located on lower McKenzie River property that MRT acquired in 2010, and it is managed by Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation & Development. This collaboration among the Trust, CPRCD, and EWEB is an effort to protect clean drinking water, integrate farming and conservation, and teach young people about growing food. Right now, the farm is growing chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, rabbits, chicken eggs, and more. For more information visit berggren-farm.org.

Whiskey Creek Organics – Siuslaw Watershed

Looking for fresh food in Florence? Whiskey Creek Organics, a family farm on Duncan Island near Mapleton, grows tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, peppers, and much more. David and Joy Pippenger’s mission is to grow the best food possible with the least amount of “off farm” inputs as possible. The Pippengers’ property is protected under a conservation easement held by MRT. Framed by towering Sitka spruce, the estuary wetlands there provide tremendous nursery habitat for salmon and many marine animals. And MRT staff can personally vouch for the deliciousness of the farm’s raspberries! For more information visit whiskeycreekorganics.com.

Restoration Progress on Green Island

Big Earth Works for Little Fish

Restoration on Green Island

Green Island low water crossing construction, photo by Chris vogel
The downstream run for a juvenile Chinook salmon can be a gauntlet. Flushed from mountain headwaters, they ride high winter flows with logs and stones, avoiding predators, looking for food, seeking to grow before heading out to the ocean. Floodplains and side channels can provide a bounty and a respite, but as waters drop young fish can also be cut off and isolated, trapped in pools and then puddles that warm and make them vulnerable to hungry birds, bull frogs and non-native bass.

This fall on Green Island we brought in the heavy equipment – dump trucks, backhoes, loaders, and even cranes – to provide safer passage for such small fry.

What you’ll see

The next time you cross the old McKenzie channel or “the neck” near the property’s center, you’ll see the results of three major earthworks that will make it easier for young salmon to get in and to get out of the site. The low water crossing, our road access across the historic McKenzie River channel onto the property, has been completely retrofitted with a concrete span engineered to withstand significant winter flooding. Crews have also been hard at work on a side channel of the Willamette River, placing massive logs and root-wads there, creating pools that are perfect for young salmon. And a culvert thirteen feet in diameter will help connect side channels of the mainstem Willamette to the historic McKenzie channel for longer seasonal stretches.

Why are we doing it?

These changes will provide more frequent floodplain connections, better passage for fish through the area, and better places for native fish and wildlife to thrive. The project brought more than $270,000 for local restoration contractors, including R.L. Reimers Company of Albany and the Corvallis-based River Design Group. Grants from the Bonneville Power Administration Willamette Biological Opinion Habitat Technical Team and Natural Resources Conservation Service are funding the work.

In the coming years, we expect to be carrying out similar work around the CARP ponds – the gravel mining site that we added to Green Island in 2010 – so look forward to more big equipment and earth moving on behalf of some tiny little fish.

1% for Watersheds Celebrates First Year

1% for Watersheds Celebration

Thursday December 5th from 5-8pm
At the Oakshire Public House, 221 Madison Street in Eugene

In 2013, Oakshire Brewing set aside 1% of revenue from sales of Watershed IPA in the southern Willamette Valley for the McKenzie River Trust’s work protecting watersheds in western Oregon. Join us at the Oakshire Public House to celebrate this partnership with Oregon Wood Fired Pizza, pints, and other people who care about the health of our rivers and lands.

More about the 1% for Watersheds program

“Our mission is to brew the highest quality beer while providing exceptional service to our customers. We cannot achieve either of these goals without the highest quality ingredients,” said Oakshire Founder Jeff Althouse. “We established a partnership with the McKenzie River Trust in 2011, and quickly realized we wanted to do more to protect our brewing source water.”

Clean water is essential to the brewing process and is a focus point of the Oakshire Brewing community. Eugene was chosen as Oakshire’s location in part due to the accessibility of clean, soft water from the McKenzie River.

“We’re very proud to have again earned Oakshire’s support,” said Joe Moll, Executive Director of the McKenzie River Trust. “The 1% for Watersheds program demonstrates their ongoing commitment to clean water and healthy watersheds, something that benefits our entire community.” Oakshire previously brewed three beers to benefit the McKenzie River Trust and commemorate EWEB’s 100th Anniversary.

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.

Oakshire Brewing of Eugene, Oregon was founded in October 2006 and has become regionally and nationally recognized for consistently brewing fresh, unique and delicious beers. The name Oakshire represents their core values: Strength, Independence, and Community. Learn more about Oakshire Brewing, their craft beers, brewery events, tours and tastings at http://oakbrew.com.

More Wetlands Protected!

Your donations help expand the Coyote Spencer Wetlands

Photo by Raptorviews by Philip Bayles

MRT staff found rare Red-legged Frogs and Delphinium on the newly protected parcel. Photos by Ryan Ruggiero.

We’re excited to announce that on November 8th – thanks to the generous support of people like you – we added 29 acres to the Coyote Spencer Wetlands, a special place you helped us protect in 2012. The conservation area now totals 190 acres and includes several miles of Coyote and Spencer creeks surrounded by large swaths of forested wetlands, marshy emergent wetlands, and a small area of drier meadows.

Local nursery owner Glenda Bloomer sold the property to the McKenzie River Trust. In honor of her late husband, avid cyclist James Bloomer, and his devotion to the land, Ms. Bloomer said, “James loved this place. He would be so happy to know that it will be cared for forever.”

In recent years, the Trust and our partners at the Long Tom Watershed Council have focused more conservation efforts on Coyote and Spencer Creeks as we’ve learned more about their fish and wildlife habitat values. In the last issue of this newsletter, we told you of the purchase of 52-acre Spencer Swamp, just a few miles away from this latest acquisition on Spencer Creek.

Why is protecting wetlands so important?

Wetlands like these will provide a degree of resilience in the face of climate change. As we experience more intensive winter storms, hotter, drier summers, and the arrival of new species, wetlands can buffer and better hold water across seasons, while also filtering runoff from surrounding hard surfaces and developed lands. They can provide oases for wildlife during the hottest times of the summer. And because of the unique way that water moves through wetland soils, these places will continue to support only those species that are adapted to wetness, reducing the risk of warm climate invasive species becoming established.

A network of protected lands, like we are establishing along the Spencer and Coyote Creek corridors, can provide a meaningful buffer for surrounding lands and help ensure that native wildlife and working lands can continue to coexist, even in the midst of climate change. And it’s your donations that make all the difference! Thank you!

Keep the momentum going

Do you want to see more special places protected in our region? Then now is a great time to give to the McKenzie River Trust!

Click here to make a donation online, or mail a check to:

McKenzie River Trust
1245 Pearl St
Eugene, OR 97041

To phone in your gift, simply call our office at 541-345-2799.

Give Now

You love healthy natural lands. Now will you invest in their protection?

We share your passion.

Today, you have a special opportunity to support the McKenzie River Trust. People like you support our work – people who share your love for clean rivers, healthy forests and natural areas. And because of your donation, others will be able to experience the natural treasures we enjoy today, long after we are gone.

Please donate today to fuel that passion and protect and care for special lands.

Ten years ago MRT Board, staff and supporters brought such a desire to a big, complicated land transaction. The Green Island project was born, and MRT was transformed. This past summer we celebrated on siteperhaps you joined us?

As we shared the day with 800 others, we learned more about the experiences that drive all of us to support land and water conservation. We wrap those interests into every new project we pursue. And we’re thankful for the good fortune we’ve enjoyed.

But what if that were not the case?

What if land protection stopped, and there were fewer and fewer outlets for our love of nature? I suspect you’ve seen special places that were dear to you get paved over or crowded out.

A fear of such losses also drives our work. We never want to say, “What a shame…” about the places we enjoy today.

Your donation will keep that from happening. Please make a gift of $100 to protect and care for special lands this year.

Here’s how your gift will continue to make a difference.

In the last month we were able to increase the size of the Coyote Spencer Wetlands by 20%. We bought the extra ground from a neighbor who shares our love for the wetlands. We did so with grants and gifts from people like you. So when we head back out there next spring to tour the wildflowers and hear the birds, that much more of their home will be secure.

Your gifts help us sink roots deeper into a passion for local foods and clean water. Our partners at the Berggren Farm produced fresh vegetables and poultry for local markets and schools on land nourished by the McKenzie River. And within the Duncan Island protected area, Joy and David Pippenger of Whiskey Creek Organics filled a CSA and grocers’ shelves with organic fruits and vegetables. Right alongside a rich maze of Siuslaw River estuary channels that nurture young coho salmon, crabs, and shrimp.

If you join us at Green Island for the next Living River Celebration – mark your calendars for June 28, 2014! – you’ll do so over a new crossing that is better both for our access and for the native fish that thrive there. And you’ll see new connections between the old McKenzie and the new Willamette channels.

Gifts from people like you make that happen as well.

And in just another month or two, we expect to see a big announcement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Oregon Chub will be proposed for de-listing from the Endangered Species Act. This would be the first time ever that a listed freshwater fish has made such a recovery in the United States.

And when you make a donation to the McKenzie River Trust, you’ll have a hand in it. Places like McKenzie Oxbow and Big Island – places that were protected in years past thanks to the generosity of people just like you – have become havens for chub.

So you see, protected areas do make a difference.

And it’s your passion for making that difference that allows us to protect and care for special lands together.

As you celebrate your own passion for nature, please consider making a $100 donation to the McKenzie River Trust today. Thank you so much for that consideration.

Special note

Your tax-deductible gift will be put to work right away, so please send it by December 31.

Give now through our secure online server.

If you’d like to send a check, please make it out to McKenzie River Trust and send to:

McKenzie River Trust
1245 Pearl St
Eugene, OR 97401

Or phone in your gift to 541-345-2799.