Gill Oak was protected through the donation of a conservation easement.
A rancher by love and trade, the landowner wanted to see the area protected from unwanted development and land uses. A conservation easement allowed her to protect the land she loves while also preserving grazing access for cattle.
Meet Gill Oak
Why It’s Important
The Gill Oak property is a mosaic of oak woodlands, open prairie and pasture, fir and cedar forests, and a salmon-bearing stream. Oak forests and associated habitats in the Pacific Northwest rank among the most threatened forest types in North America. Oak habitats were the dominant cover type throughout much of the interior valleys of western Washington and Oregon prior to Anglo-settlement. Much of these forests have been cleared for agriculture or housing or have succeeded to conifer-dominated forests. At least 200 wildlife species use these habitats, including 99 that are listed as “At-Risk” by state and federal agencies and the Oregon Natural Heritage Program. For example, the continual loss of oak habitat function has resulted in the near-complete extirpation of the western grey squirrel in western Washington.
Restoring Oak Woodland
In 2004, McKenzie River Trust assisted the landowner in securing a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant of $53,000 to expand restoration activities on the property. Restoration included eradicating English hawthorn and blackberry from key areas, and also thinning out dense stands of oak. Prescribed fire was utilized in the open prairie areas to help care for native plant species and return the ancient, and critical practice to the landscape. Additional restoration work was funded through commercial milling of the small-diameter oak trees removed from the area to restore woodland habitat.