Enhancing fish and wildlife habitat
Restoring Natural Systems
Protecting special lands is only part of the mission of the McKenzie River Trust. We also enhance and restore various habitat types within our service area. Some of these include upland prairies, like Cerro Gordo or Native Oaks Ridge. Other types of restoration include oak savanna, oak woodland, mixed bottomland oak woodland, upland conifer forest, and ash forest, to name a few.
We also protect and restore wetlands, wet prairies, and floodplains. We do all this to help protect and enhance the habitats our regional, and sometimes imperiled, wildlife relies upon for survival.
Restoring Floodplain Function at Finn Rock Reach
In the summer of 2021, just a few years after the purchase of Finn Rock Reach, McKenzie River Trust completed the first phase of an enhancement project in this salmon-bearing area. Now it it’s second phase during the summer of 2023 we’re nearing completion of this large scale project. Work includes restoring the floodplain to its historic elevations, and spreading water across the site. Large wood has been placed to create structure and habitat for young salmon and other fish species and attention was given to increase turtle nesting habitat.
KLCC, October 2021
Think Outloud, OPB September 2021
The Register-Guard September 2021
Eugene Weekly September 2021
KEZI News October 2020
The Register-Guard October 2020
Restoring Tidal Function on the Siuslaw River
Estuarine wetlands are among the most biologically and economically productive ecosystems. Since the 1850s, approximately 67% of Oregon’s outer coast estuarine habitat has been lost to land development, contributing to drastic declines in salmon and steelhead abundance. Beginning in the summer of 2023, project partners will undertake a multi-year effort to reverse these impacts. The project will focus on restoring approximately 200 acres of tidal wetland and recreating roughly six miles of high-quality feeding and rearing habitat for salmon, steelhead, sea run cutthroat, lamprey and other aquatic and avian species.
Partnering for Coho in the Siuslaw and Coastal Lakes Basin
McKenzie River Trust is one of nine members of the Siuslaw Coho Partnership, a collaborative group centered around Coho salmon recovery. Formed in 2018, the partnership includes state, federal, tribal, and non-profit partners who have been working together to bring critical investments and a wide range of expertise to the Siuslaw and Coastal Lakes basin.
Oak and Prairie Habitats
Oak and prairie habitats are some of the most impacted, and quickly disappearing habitat types in the Willamette Valley. Less than 3% of historic habitat remains, leaving little space for the many plants and animals that rely on these areas for survival. That’s why McKenzie River Trust works closely with our partners to protect and enhance these areas through on-the-ground restoration projects.
Supporting the Return of Good Fire
McKenzie River Trust works with a range of partners. From private landowners to watershed councils, local Tribes, and state and federal agencies, we’re all pulling together for Oregon’s lands and rivers. One aspect of this work is supporting Indigenous-led initiatives to return good fire to the landscape. Fire can seem scary, but our region has relied on traditional burning practices of the Kalapuya People since time immemorial.
Caring for Sensitive Species
We incorporate the most up to date research from the scientific community to formulate the best planning efforts to move restoration projects forward. MRT is nimble and creative with regard to securing funding for these projects. MRT collaborates with partners to make these projects successful. Partners include local watershed councils, other land trusts, state, local, and federal agencies.
Each fall, partners work together across our region to include controlled ecological burning in areas where habitat restoration has been completed or is underway. Ecological burning in natural areas benefits native prairie, savanna, and oak woodland habitats while also reducing the potential for severe, high-intensity wildfires by removing built up fuels including dense shrubs and thatch.
Three years after the Holiday Farm fire burned more than 173,000 acres in the McKenzie River valley, partners are celebrating the completion of floodplain restoration work at Finn Rock Reach. Beginning in the summer of 2021, restoration activities have included reshaping nearly 90 acres of floodplain forest and returning the area back to aquatic habitat along the Middle McKenzie River.
A decade after McKenzie River Trust, purchased 217-acre Waite Ranch in the Siuslaw Estuary, partners are breaking ground on a large-scale restoration project. Led by the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI), the project will improve salmon and shorebird habitat, contribute to regional climate resilience, and provide a place for local Tribal citizens and families to celebrate and promote Indigenous culture on their ancestral lands.
Two and a half years after the Holiday Farm fire burned more than 173,000 acres in the McKenzie River valley, partners are breaking ground on the second and final phase of floodplain restoration work at Finn Rock Reach, a 278-acre conservation area owned by McKenzie River Trust.
From frogs to fish, beavers, and otters, our rivers are home to an incredible abundance of animals. Reconnecting our rivers to allow for water to slow and spread not only improves water quality and retention on the landscape but also provides important habitat for the beloved animals around us.
One year after devastating wildfires and a summer of unprecedented drought, the first Spring Chinook salmon have arrived at the spawning ground in the McKenzie River near the Finn Rock Reach restoration project to complete the cycle of life for this iconic species.