Thanks to you, an oak woodland and working forest is protected
When you ask Doug and Linda Carnine why it was important to permanently protect their 294-acre property a few miles south of Eugene, it seems to always come back to the trees.
Inspired by a lifetime of travel, Doug and Linda have invested heavily in conservation in their own backyard.
They’ve purchased cut-over parcels of land around Lane County with a vision to turn them into thriving forests that clean the air and provide a home for native hawks, bees, cougars, rattlesnakes, and bears.
Now, one of those areas will be protected forever, thanks to a conservation easement the Carnines developed with the McKenzie River Trust. Funding for the project came from the Bonneville Power Administration and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program, and members of the McKenzie River Trust. The Carnines also donated a portion of the value of the easement to make sure the land would be protected.
Doug and Linda will continue to own the land and manage it for its wildlife habitat, native plants, and for the public, who can access the property on walking trails. They will also continue to involve the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Confederated Tribes of Siletz, and Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon.
Getting the land to the condition it’s in today has taken years of hard work.
“Each of these trees is one we have intimate relations with,” says Linda. We’re standing in a place, she explains, that was once home to a ten foot wall of scotch broom. Sometimes, when Doug and Linda came to visit, they’d find young trees they had planted in an area gnarled, twisted, and bent. “They about died several times.”
Linda points to one redwood sapling, about ten feet tall atop the hill of the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve and smiles.
“That one is amazing, the way it has popped up! It got real skinny, bent over, and we used stakes and all sorts of things to keep it growing, and now… look at that! Standing up and growing tall.”
“We probably replanted this spot about five times,” adds Doug.
Dedicated to Andy
The preserve’s namesake may be familiar to longtime members of the McKenzie River Trust.
Andrew Reasoner’s enthusiasm for life extended to his community, family, and work as MRT’s first ever Conservation Director from 2005 to 2007. A warm, energetic and caring person, Andy was able to connect with anyone, from the youngest child to the most skeptical landowner.
Andy’s friend Darin Stringer has worked with the Carnine family for over a decade to support restoration of their land. Andy lived next door to the property and often hiked there. “He was such an avid outdoorsman,” said Darin. As a neighbor “he was really interested in seeing the property conserved.”
Andy passed away in 2007 after battling cancer. When Darin suggested that the Carines dedicate the preserve to Andy, it seemed a fitting tribute. That is even more true now, as the conservation easement will forever protect a place that Andy loved.
“People are looking for a way to give back,” says Doug, explaining why more and more lands south of Eugene have been protected in recent years.
“For some reason land conservation resonates with them. Maybe they have heard the data on endangered habitat in oak savannahs and how important oaks are for so many species.”
That’s what Steve Smith, a retired US Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager in the Willamette Valley, told Doug and Linda when he visited their property some years back.
Steve explained that oak savannah is the tenth most endangered habitat in the world. “We’ve lost a huge percentage of what was here when the Native Americans used fire to protect the oak,” says Linda.
It’s protected… so what’s next?
It seems conservation work is never done. Next up, Doug and Linda will work with the Long Tom Watershed Council to make the habitat even more attractive for sensitive species.
Pointing to a young forest of fir and oak to the north, Doug explains the conservation enhancement project. “We’re going to create a corridor from here all the way down to the prairie. We’ll take out some trees, release a lot of native plants and remove invasives.”
There’s a little rock out-cropping, which means diversity and the occasional rattlesnake sighting. There’s an old hunting blind where people have seen a bear cub running past. There’s chinquapin, Willamette Valley pine, and a woody grove that Linda calls her “madrone garden” that flourished in the hot, dry summer of 2015. And there are the oaks.
A special forest management zone in the easement will ensure that oaks will be protected in the midst of an area that the Carnines and any future landowners can thin for timber. The easement will require the area to be managed for the sake of the oak trees, rather than for maximal harvest.
You can come see the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve for yourself. In fact, the Carnines encourage it. “We ask people to give us a call,” says Linda. “It’s nice to know who’s out here.”
They ask that you access the property only on foot, and that dogs stay on leash. “Someone spotted a family of bobcats up here, so we’re really trying to protect them,” she adds.
When you visit…
- Please do not block the gate.
- Please call before your visit.
- Please access on foot only.
- Please keep all dogs on leash.
Before your visit, please call Doug and Linda to let them know you are coming: 541-485-3781
Address: 84731 Lorane Highway, Eugene OR 97405 – note that the address is approximate. There is no mailbox but look for the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve sign (pictured above) and the small pull-out by the locked gate. Do not block the gate.