Woodpecker Ridge was permanently protected through the donation of a conservation easement to McKenzie River Trust. The 91-acre forest land was purchased by the landowners to preserve it for sustainable timber harvest that balances the needs of human, plant, and animal communities.
"There are many ways we all try to take care of the world, but it's hard to know which ones will work. This seemed like something effective we could do."
Landowners donate 91-acre forest easement
Protecting the Land
As you walk through the forest and farmland protected in the Woodpecker Ridge Conservation Easement near Crow, mature conifer trees tower above while your feet squish into the rich floodplain of Trout Creek. Passing tall oak groves, you reach a small wetland. A flock of sheep grazes in the farm fields. It’s easy to see why Kate and Max Gessert wanted to protect this special place.
Kate, an English as a Second Language teacher at Lane Community College, and Max, an artist and writer, donated a 91-acre conservation easement to the McKenzie River Trust in May 2012. Grant funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act helped pay for some of the transaction expenses.
After living on 20 acres of the property for a few years, the Gesserts learned that the second-growth forest next door was owned by a timber company and about to be cut, so they bought it. “We first talked with the McKenzie River Trust about an easement about 10 years ago,” says Max. “We wanted to protect the land, but there were some staff changes and it was easy to put off. Many years went by. Then I was diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly, all kinds of issues became foregrounded. We began thinking about lots of things we had considered before that hadn’t been finished.”
Working Lands Support Wildlife
Sensitive fish and wildlife species likely to benefit from the land’s protection include red-legged frog, pileated woodpecker, and yellow-breasted chat. In keeping with the Gesserts’ Forest Stewardship Certification of the land, the easement allows for limited, sustainable forest harvest.
Customized legal agreements can meet landowner needs while protecting critical habitats. “Conservation easements are as unique as the landscapes they protect, we’re grateful that the Gesserts are committed to working with us to ensure that future wildlife and people will coexist on Woodpecker Ridge and be protected.”