How the Upper Willamette SWCD team is working to enhance native wildlife habitats and helpful resources for Lane County residents.

Savanna and Woodland Enhancement

A property owner contacted the Upper Willamette SWCD about his concerns for the legacy of his land for future generations. Oak savannas and oak woodlands are the most imperiled habitats in the Willamette Valley due to fire suppression and land use conversion. His small grant funded trimming, thinning, mulching, and planting of oak trees as well as the removal or girdling of other tree species. Invasive vegetation, such as blackberries, which displace and prevent native plant growth, were removed and native vegetation planted to reduce erosion. The property owner now has a lasting oak savanna legacy to pass on for generations to come.

Deer Creek Project (with ODF/MWC)

The Upper Willamette SWCD partnered with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and the McKenzie Watershed Council (MWC) to support the documentation of the linked physical and ecological responses to the recent “Stage 0” restoration on Deer Creek. Stage 0 restoration intent is to restore natural processes, which will create and maintain habitat over time. An enhanced understanding of the short- and long-term impacts of this restoration on focal species, water quality, and physical habitat will directly inform the development of future restoration, enhancing outreach to raise awareness and understanding of this restoration approach. To see more about this project please visit the McKenzie Watershed Council Deer Creek Restoration Project Web page.

Pure Water Partners (PWP)

PWP protects riparian forests for wildlife habitat and drinking water. We currently work with over 80 landowners to provide technical assistance and get them signed up for riparian restoration and protection agreements with the Eugene Water & Electric Board.

A landowner contacted us about the potential for the long-term protection of the creeks and creek side vegetation growing on his family owned legacy ranch. The conservation specialist determined that the riparian and special habitat areas on this property are eligible for a long-term protection agreement. The property includes special habitat features, such as wetland and oak habitats. The landowner is also working with our partners at National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to restore the oak habitat, fence off cattle from the lower reaches of the creeks, and plant native riparian vegetation in areas previously disturbed by livestock. This landowner is excited that he can be rewarded for his efforts to do the right thing for the natural systems, create unique habitats for endangered species, and protect drinking water quality for downstream users.

A landowner contacted us about her family’s legacy woodlot as a special piece of land to her and her family. She wants to protect it for the future generations and contribute to the health of the river and clean drinking water for future generations. Her 7-acre property qualified for protection because it is a thriving, healthy riparian forest. She signed the acreage into a long-term agreement that will help ensure healthy aquatic habitat and clean drinking water now and into the future. It also provides her with support to keep the family owned property for future generations.

National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS)

The Upper Willamette SWCD works closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to implement projects that improve forest health and biodiversity. Several projects have been implemented to reduce tree density. These thinning projects reduce fire hazard, reduce the potential for pests to infest forest stands, and allow sunlight to reach the forest floor. Under a closed canopy forest there is no understory vegetation. Sunlight allows ferns, salal, and native shrubs to establish. In addition to thinning, native trees and shrubs are planted to improve the forest biodiversity. Not all forestland is appropriate for Douglas fir planting. Some soils are too wet and other soils are too shallow and rocky. Stressed trees are more susceptible to pests. By replacing stressed Douglas fir with species tolerant to the local growing conditions pest pressure is reduced. As plant diversity increases so does wildlife habitat. Since much of Lane County is forested, the Upper Willamette SWCD has worked closely with NRCS to create funding opportunities for forest landowners.

National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Website

Vision for Additional Funding

Hire a forestry technician to work with foresters and small woodlot owners in conservation planning. This technician would work closely with the NRCS and to determine best management practices for their forests & woodlots, understand current problems and provide potential solutions related to nutrient management, pest control & pesticide runoff, soil & sediment runoff, riparian plantings & buffer zones, among other sustainable forestry & agroforestry practices. The implementation of these solutions would be jointly funded through cost sharing between the district and landowners to leverage federal and NRCS funds.

Partners: NRCS, ODF

Establish a grant program (or part of restoration program mentioned below) to fund the work of watershed councils, tribes, forest collaboratives, and other partners working to restore healthy landscapes and oak habitats and bring healthy (prescribed) fire back to the landscape (so that we can minimize the risk of catastrophic fire).

Partners: watershed councils, tribes, forest collaboratives, Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah, McKenzie River Trust, The Nature Conservancy, FUSEE, Mount Pisgah Arboretum, others

Reduce Fire Risk in the Wildland-Urban Interface. This program would be designed in partnership with the ODF to help homeowners create defensible spaces against fire around their houses. The district recognizes that the natural growth of vegetation around houses can get out of hand and the trimming or removal of big trees is daunting task for many homeowners. This program would help create plans for defensible space. We would send out staff members to evaluate the situation and draw up a plan of action and a working budget for a neighborhood or an individual homeowner. We provide lists of contractors, or we contract the work ourselves. We provide cost share for the execution of the work.

Partners: ODF, East Lane Forest Protection Association, watershed councils, others

Not only do we provide technical assistance, but we can also fund you!

We’re here to partner with landowners, conservation nonprofits, and local, state, and federal agencies. We offer FREE site visits, assessments, and technical assistance. See our available grants to learn about funding.