Green Island

Why It’s Important

Green Island, the McKenzie River Trust’s largest protected property, presents one of the best remaining opportunities within the Willamette Valley for preserving and restoring a dynamic and ecologically diverse river system. This area was identified as the most critical area for protection and restoration within the lower McKenzie Watershed.

Located at the confluence of the McKenzie and the Willamette Rivers, Green Island contains some of the least altered fish and wildlife habitat in the Willamette Valley and provides essential habitat for numerous species. At more than 1,000 acres, Green Island offers an opportunity to make an impact on a landscape level.

Vision

Our vision for Green Island is to restore a robust ecosystem comprised of a rich mosaic of historic habitat types. We believe that this will be successful if it is done through cooperative partnerships dedicated to innovative, flexible and adaptive management.

Partners

Green Island was purchased in 2003 from the Green family, who owned and farmed the land for over 70 years and wanted to see it protected and restored for the benefit of wildlife and the communities of the southern Willamette Valley. Funding for the acquisition was provided by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB).

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) holds a conservation easement on the property, which insures that Green Island is managed in a way that protects natural resources, maintains or enhances air or water quality, and preserves its underlying archaeological or cultural resources in perpetuity. In addition, the State of Oregon, by and through OWEB, is a third party beneficiary to this easement.

Restoration activities have been supported through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners Program and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program as well as numerous other partnerships.

Restoration

Restoring the floodplain forest is a key element to enhancing the habitat on the property for native wildlife. Since 2006, more than 245 acres of Green Island have been converted from agriculture fields to floodplain forest or riparian habitat. To date over 60,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted on the property, and many more are yet to come. These trees will grow to become a gallery forest and provide refuge for birds, bugs, frogs, beavers, and all the creatures that visit and live on this land.

We are also enhancing natural river flow processes on Green Island including flooding, channel migration, groundwater interaction, and formation of backwater areas. Since 2007, more than 5,600 feet of levees have been removed from the Island, permitting high waters to flow through swales and portions of the property which were blocked off from the river for over 35 years. We’re planning to remove additional levees so that backwater channels on the property will reconnect. Bringing back the river’s flow to these channels will provide critical habitat for juvenile spring Chinook and Oregon Chub.

Animals on the property

Green Island is home to numerous fish and wildlife species, including several federally- and state-listed threatened and endangered species such as spring Chinook salmon, Oregon chub, Western pond turtle, and Red-legged frog. More than 156 types of birds have been identified on the property including Western meadowlark, Pileated woodpecker, and Black phoebe. Great blue heron, osprey, beavers, eagles and other iconic Oregon species can also be found on the property.

Research

The Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are actively using the property as a field site.  Findings from their work help us understand the intricate relationship between surface and ground water, floodplain function, and water quality.

Get involved

Many volunteers and partners have helped to plant thousands of trees and shrubs on Green Island, while also working to control invasive weeds like Scot’s broom, Himalayan blackberry, Japanese knotweed and tansy ragwort. This work continues today, and you can help! To get involved, visit our volunteers page.

The McKenzie River Trust offers regular tours of Green Island led by volunteer experts. Recent tours have focused on birds, native plants, and dragonflies and damselflies. Sign up for our contact list to be the first to hear about all our events and tours.

Map

Key Facts

  • Size: 1,055 acres
  • Location: Where the McKenzie River meets the Willamette, north of Eugene/Springfield and just west of Coburg, Oregon.
  • Acquired in: 2003 – the Green family sold MRT 865 acres. More than 160 acres have since been added.
  • How it was protected: The McKenzie River Trust purchased the property in fee title with the support of several key partners. Read more about the project partners here.

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