If you want to be in the know about what’s going on at our organization, you’ve come to the right place.
Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.
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On November 30, support your local businesses and discover hidden gems in your town.
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2020 Wild Rivers Land Trust Outdoor Photography Contest
September 23, 2020 Port Orford, Oregon
Wild Rivers Land Trust is excited to create a new event that will help share the natural abundance of wildlife stewarded by private landowners along the southern Oregon coast. The 2020 Wild Rivers Land Trust Outdoor Photography Contest pairs local private landowners with wildlife photographers for a friendly competition showcasing the waters, lands, wildlife and plants found on the Oregon South Coast. The contest teams each photographer with a landowner who compete with other teams over a set time period to photograph a diversity of wildlife, plants and scenery. Images are judged by professional individuals and are unknown to the contestants. This is the first of its kind on the Oregon Coast with plans to expand the event in 2021. In 2020, there is a prize purse of $3,500 for the winning teams, split evenly between the landowner and the photographer on the team. It is modeled after a successful long running event in Texas. Registration is now closed for the 2020 event with 7 teams entered. Judging will occur later this fall and awards will be announced in early 2021. An online event revealing the winners will take place in early 2021. All information will be on our website along with a link to join in the festivities. Sponsorships are still available and include opportunities to display and or purchase winning images and help us expand the event and its positive impact in the future. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort with photographer Steve Dimock
Camp Myrtle Wood with photographer Steve Holt
Chisolm Ranch Coquille with photographer Michael Sherman
Collier Farm with photographer Peter Pearsall
LaBelle Retreat with photographer Kara Long
Pistol River Ranch with photographer Steve Miller
Wahl Ranch with photographer Rowland Willis
See http://wildriverslandtrust.org/news--events.html for more information and to contact the Wild Rivers Land Trust. If you would like to know more about Wild Rivers Land Trust, visit the website at www.wildriverslandtrust.org, Facebook page at facebook.com/WildRiversLandTrust/ or by call the office at 541-366-2130. Wild Rivers Land Trust is a 501c(3) non-profit organization, accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2019, that works to secure Oregon’s legacy of clean waters, healthy habitats and working lands for future generations.
STATE OF THE LANDS 2020
Read the 2020 State of the Lands publication from the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts - COLT
LETTER TO OUR SUPPORTERS
Supporting Our Communities
As we move into the 12th week of Wild Rivers Land Trust’s staff working in separate work spaces, I am grateful for the basics of life and work, reconnecting to core values, and equally saddened by recent events.
It is humbling to see how a viral pandemic exposes our vulnerability as mammals, and shows our interconnectedness with each other and nature on a global scale. It is amazing that the smallest germs aren’t even living organisms (they need a host to live and reproduce), and they can have significant, far-reaching impacts on our planet. As the pandemic progressed, we saw dramatic decreases in greenhouse gases in our atmosphere with reduced human activity and wild animals start to inhabit empty city streets and towns. The planet’s healing and resilience was seen as hopeful, however it came at such grave costs to human life and well-being.
The virus also revealed weaknesses in our social fabric as disparities in health, access to healthcare and the fragility in our food security, food systems, and economy. Recently, those flaws revealed the underpinnings of inequities in our social justice. We saw this through the lens of weaponized racism towards Christian Cooper while birdwatching, towards Ahmaud Arbery on a morning jog in rural Georgia, towards George Floyd left to die at the hands of the people we trust to protect us.
These events cause me to reflect on the work we do and how conservation must serve and benefit all on this planet. Everyone must have clean air and clean water as basic fundamentals to life—the connection of poor air quality to increased vulnerability to the coronavirus drove this home. The legacy of pollutants and impacts of climate change are disproportionately imposed on black, brown and indigenous communities, and this is unjust. We need to create welcoming and safe environments for all to recreate and reap the benefits of experiencing nature for human physical and mental health. We are wise to remember our interconnectedness and how we are only as strong as our weakest links in nature and society.
As we look to navigate this pandemic, Wild Rivers Land Trust is mindful of the struggles in our communities, and we want you to know we remain productive and committed to improving life for all living things. We are working on promoting clean air and water and mitigating climate change through conservation to improve the health of all citizens of the planet. We know that much of your effort and support must go to the immediate critical needs of taking care of each other right now. We will continue to work on the challenge of climate change, by conserving the natural systems that are necessary to address the ecological and social problems of a warming planet.
I remain optimistic that we humans are addressing very fundamental issues that have plagued us for generations and we will come out stronger in the end. I am grateful that the Land Trust’s work can continue through our dedicated staff and Board of Directors, and all the people, foundations and organizations who support our work. I have been taking time to listen, learn and to elevate the voices of those who are normally suppressed. My hope is that we will emerge from these challenges more grounded in equitable human values that protect each other and sustain life on our planet.
I wish you all health and wellness in these stressful times. Know that the work of the Land Trust continues while we are all called to do more for our fellow humans. I hope you all stay safe until we can meet again in the not-too-distant future and you are able to spend time enjoying nature wherever you can.
Wild Rivers Land Trust
Conservation Groups Work Together on Nesika Beach Preserve
June 17, 2020
Port Orford, Oregon
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Wild Rivers Land Trust (WRLT) announced they have completed the transfer of TNC’s Nesika Beach Preserve property in Southern Oregon to WRLT. The transfer of the 71.5 acre preserve will ensure the continued protection of this unique coastal forest habitat and watershed while advancing WRLT’s “Summit to Sea Stacks” conservation goal for the South Coast, linking protected upland woodlands, agricultural lands and rivers to coastal woodlands.
Nesika Beach is a special place. The coastal headland supports a wind-sculpted shrub community with a diverse mix of species such as crowberry, coast silk tassel, Pacific wax myrtle and more and protects most of the watershed. The preserve features a rare forest with a unique combination of mature Sitka Spruce and Grand Fir, a stream and wetlands that are critical for amphibious and aquatic species such as beavers, river otters, and Pacific giant salamanders and unique coastal bluffs habitat. A section of the Oregon Coast Trail borders the property as does the Giesel Monument State Heritage Site. It has historical significance as the probable location of the 1850’s mining settlement called Elizabethtown that was the site of a major event in the Rogue River Indian War.
Nesika Beach came under the threat of subdivision and development before TNC and others stepped in to help protect the land, help keep the coastal forest intact and establish the Nesika Beach Preserve. After developing a strong partnership by working on this and other projects, staff at TNC know that the dedicated conservationists at WRLT will be excellent long-term stewards of Nesika Beach Preserve, working to ensure its health and vibrancy for generations to come. “We are thrilled to have developed a strong partnership with TNC, and we look forward to working on other regional projects in the future,” states Ann Schmierer, Executive Director of the WRLT.
“The long term conservation of special places, such as Nesika Beach is paramount to the missions of both TNC and WRLT,” says Derek Johnson, Deputy Director of Operations and Communications for TNC in Oregon. “The transfer of Nesika Beach Preserve secures the future of the forest and watershed, enables positive growth for the Wild Rivers Land Trust and conservation along the South Coast and helps TNC focus resources where we are uniquely positioned to achieve ambitious outcomes for nature and people.”
If you would like to know more about Wild Rivers Land Trust, visit the website at www.wildriverslandtrust.org, Facebook page at facebook.com/WildRiversLandTrust/ or by call the office at 541-366-2130.
Wild Rivers Land Trust is a 501c(3) non-profit organization, accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2019, that works to secure Oregon’s legacy of clean waters, healthy habitats and working lands for future generations.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners.
SPOTLIGHT: Local Farmers Making a Difference
We are focusing on sustainable foods and products that support reduction of climate change by lowering transportation emissions and expanding local economy. This is often referred to as the triple bottom line: social, environmental & economic. If you are interested in being featured here on our website and in our newsletter, please email Pamela at email@example.com
Myrtle Glen Farm (MGF) is a small-scale farm and B&B owned and operated by Micha and Dan near Myrtle Point, Oregon. Their dreams of being self-sufficient growers of healthy food in a regenerative way, and sharing that experience with others, became a reality in 2014. They had always dreamed of owning an idyllic Bed and Breakfast in the middle of the forest, growing vegetables and fruit on site and serving farm-to-table meals to guests. Their two passions coalesced and were a natural fit with each other allowing them to feature agriculture, agritourism, and ecotourism.
MGF's goal is to provide nutrient-dense food, fresh herbs, foraged dry leaf tea, flower bouquets, and value-added items to the local community. Travelers from all around the world bring tourism dollars into the community while learning the importance of farming sustainably, homesteading, and protecting the few remaining native forests in the Coast Range. Each year Micha and Dan host community events at the farm ranging from garden tours to culinary mushroom inoculation work-shops. They are a part of the Wwoof-USA organization, where volunteers interested in farming help out on the farm in exchange for education, food, and place to stay.
Maintaining a business in a rural community often requires flexibility to adapt and make changes. With the current pandemic, Dan and Micha began selling a Weekly Farm Box to their community members. Locals in Coquille and Coos Bay can purchase a farm box and other value-added products produced throughout the year. Coos-Head Co-op has been a wonderful advocate by promoting Myrtle Glen Farm's locally sourced produce over the past 6 years.
Future plans are somewhat up in the air for Micha and Dan's B&B since it's a tourism based business. They believe shutting down their B&B was the right thing to do for this season to curb the spread of Covid-19 and to protect the community from outside sources bringing in the virus. Part of having a goal of resiliency is moving in a different direction and putting skills of growing and foraging food to work for the community. They see the weekly farm-box program as a possibility to expand into a broader CSA program. They also hope to expand the production of herbal tea blends that they forage, cultivate, dry, and package and hope to sell more in local markets.
Dan and Micha are members of Coast Range Forest Watch, a local grassroots environmental organization focused on work surrounding the Elliott State Forest as well as broader forestry impacts, namely the practice of aerial spraying of toxic pesticides and how it impacts rural Oregonians and wildlife downstream. Micha is a board member of the Coquille Valley Seed Community and Dan is a board member of Coquille Watershed Organization.
WILD RIVERS LAND TRUST Seeks National Seal of Approval
July 23, 2018
Port Orford, Oregon
Ann Schmierer, Executive Director of the Wild Rivers Land Trust, announced today that the local land conservation organization is applying for accreditation by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
“Voluntary, independent accreditation will give the Wild Rivers Land Trust greater credibility and respect with landowners, donors, public policy makers and other stakeholders,” said Ann Schmierer. “I believe it will enhance our efforts to protect open spaces, wildlife habitat, rivers, productive lands and the traditional landscapes of the Southern Oregon coastal region.”
Accreditation is a mark of distinction in land conservation. To date about 400 of the nearly 1,700 land trusts in the U.S. have been accredited. The accreditation seal provides the public with an assurance that the accredited organization has the ways and means to protect important natural places and working lands forever.
The rigorous accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that demonstrate compliance with the Land Trust Alliance Standards and Practices. The Standards and Practices are the ethical and technical guidelines established in 1989 by the LTA for the responsible operation of a land trust.
As an important part of the process, the Accreditation Commission invites public input on pending applications. Comments must relate to how the Wild Rivers Land Trust complies with the Land Trust Alliance Standards and Practices. The easiest way to comment on Wild Rivers Land Trust is to visit the Commission web site, http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org and click on “Comment on a Land Trust” link located on the home page. You can email your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may also be submitted to: Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments, 36 Phila St., Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866; or faxed to 518-587-3183. Comments on the application will be most useful if they are received by October 26, 2018. For more information on the Wild Rivers Land Trust, call Ann Schmierer at 541-366-2130. ###
USPS Issues New Wild & Scenic Rivers Stamp Series
Our Wild & Scenic Stamp Series reveal went well and we thank those who participated. If anyone is interested in purchasing sets of stamped envelopes, please let us know by calling our office: 541-366-2130. They are still available.
Wild Rivers Land Trust hosted a hand-cancelling station for the new Wild&Scenic Rivers commemorative postage stamp on May 22nd from 1:30-4:30 at our office - 832 Oregon Street/Hwy 101, Port Orford.
Four of the collectible stamps are photos taken by our local friend and author Tim Palmer. Join us for this very special event!
For all you collectors of everything "Port Orford", we are selling envelopes featuring 4 of Tim's photos with a stamp and hand cancelled, worthy of framing. We still have sets and will reserve some for you.
Cost for a set of 4 envelopes is $20 or individually $7 each. In case you are thinking about having your collection framed, our friend and neighbor Carol Malley at Uptown Frames does a beautiful job of custom framing - she's right next door.
U.S. Forest Service Purchases Purple Mountain Property on the Elk River
November 21, 2019
Port Orford, Oregon
Wild Rivers Land Trust announced today that they have completed the sale of the Purple Mountain property to the U.S. Forest Service, providing the preservation of a lush and thriving ecosystem with abundant wildlife and connectivity of wildlife corridors. The sale was made possible with capital from the Land & Water Conservation Fund, a federal program dedicated to land and water conservation. This land will add to other surrounding public lands maintained by the USFS, allowing long-term public access for hiking and recreational use. "The transfer of the Purple Mountain property to the U.S. Forest Service opens 160 acres to public access for recreation and conserves important fish and wildlife habitat. Bald Mountain Creek, which flows through the Purple Mountain property, was recently added to the national Wild and Scenic Rivers system, underscoring the importance of protecting this area for its contributions to recreation and water quality in the Elk River watershed," Max Beeken, WRLT Conservation Director.
In May of 2016, Wild Rivers Land Trust acquired Purple Mountain, a 160-acre parcel, from a private landowner. The goal of the purchase was to avoid forest and wildlife corridor fragmentation. The land contains a significant stretch of mature forest which will eventually become old growth and is prime habitat for threatened species including marbled murrelets, spotted owls and coho salmon. This region has one of the most productive steelhead tributaries in the Elk River Watershed. An intact forest ensures cleaner streams and healthier habitat by preventing erosion on the very steep topography.
The Elk River is one of the most pristine rivers in Curry county and it is designated as a Wild & Scenic River. Our coastal region has four Wild & Scenic Rivers, the highest concentration in the lower 48 states; they are the Elk, Rogue, Chetco and Illinois Rivers.
If you would like to know more about Wild Rivers Land Trust, visit the website at www.wildriverslandtrust.org, Facebook page at facebook.com/WildRiversLandTrust/ or by calling the office at 541-366-2130.
Wild Rivers Land Trust is a 501c(3) non-profit organization, accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, that works to secure Oregon’s legacy of clean waters, healthy habitats and working lands for future generations. For more information on Wild Rivers Land Trust, contact Ann Schmierer, Executive Director, at 541-366-2130.
Wild Rivers Land Trust Bear Creek Natural Area Sale to US Forest Service Completed!
January 4, 2016
Wild Rivers Land Trust - Jerry Becker, (541) 366-1151, email@example.com
Wild Salmon Center – Mark Trenholm, (971) 255-5542, firstname.lastname@example.org
Craft3 - Jennifer Janda, (888) 231-2170 x 205, email@example.com
210 Acres in Oregon preserved for public and habitat with support from Land and Water Conservation Fund Result of collaboration between Wild Rivers Land Trust, Craft3, Meyer Memorial Trust and U.S. Fish and Wildlife
PORT ORFORD – Today, community-based Wild Rivers Land Trust announced the completion of the final step to preserve 210 acres of forestland containing hiking trails, salmon-bearing streams and prime wildlife habitat near the Elk River in Curry County, Oregon. The land will now be managed alongside old-growth timber forests in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest after a sale to the U.S. Forest Service.
“Three years ago, we took an important first step to preserve the Bear Creek “McGribble” property – and now, with the transfer to the U.S. Forest Service, that process is complete,” said Jerry Becker, Conservation Director of Wild Rivers Land Trust. “Placing this area into conservation means long-term public access on hiking trails, and protecting salmon-bearing streams and wildlife habitat. This is a great step forward for conserving the Elk River watershed.”
Wild Rivers obtained the property from a willing seller in 2013 in a deal made possible with a Conservation Bridge Loan from regional nonprofit lender Craft3. The loan was possible with capital support from Portland-based Meyer Memorial Trust. Additional support came from community donations and foundations such as Wild Rivers Coast Alliance and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The sale announced today to the U.S. Forest Service was made possible with capital from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF is a 52-year-old federal program that raises money from oil and gas leases on public land to fund land acquisition and conservation easements across the country. Wild Rivers will use the payment from LWCF to pay off its bridge loan to Craft3.
“Craft3 believes in having strong partners within rural communities and ensuring they have the capital to be successful,” says Brad Hunter, Craft3 Business Lender. “Our land conservation bridge fund, which is a long-time partnership with Meyer Memorial Trust, provides the capital for critical, community-supported conservation projects throughout Oregon. We are thrilled to have worked with Wild Rivers Land Trust on this deal.”
In 2012, Craft3 and Meyer Memorial Trust partnered to not only provide capital for conservation in Oregon, but to build capacity at land trusts. Craft3 has been proud to use Meyer capital to invest in the growth of Wild Rivers with three loans to conserve at-risk property. This shows the power of capital to build capacity, address community needs and preserve our natural resources.
Over the last few years, Wild Rivers Land Trust has significantly expanded gross revenue, recruited several new board members and worked to develop sustainable funding sources that can support capacity to make a significant impact on conservation in Curry and southern Coos Counties.
Wild Rivers Land Trust’s service area stretches from the Coquille River in Bandon, Oregon to the California Border and has the highest concentration of wilderness areas anywhere in the state, and the highest concentration of wild and scenic rivers of anywhere in the nation. The rugged, precipitous terrain supports some of the most productive fisheries in the lower 48 states. The south coast watersheds are not only the nursery for a variety of fish species, they also serve as critical habitat for birds and wildlife.
While Wild Rivers has played an integral role in the local efforts to preserve Coho salmon, it is also collaborating regionally with the Wild Salmon Center on the Oregon Coast Coho Business Plan, a larger effort to restore Coho salmon throughout the Pacific Northwest. The plan outlines priority habitat protection and restoration projects – things such as wetlands conservation, streamside planting and culvert removal.
“Local partnerships are the key to recovering Coho on the Oregon Coast,” said Mark Trenholm, Senior Program Manager at the Wild Salmon Center. “The Wild Rivers Land Trust approach is a model for others. They have defined a vision that promotes working lands and restores salmon systems, and operate in a manner that is collaborative and oriented to the needs of their community.”
About Wild Rivers Land Trust
Wild Rivers Land Trust was established in 2000 to promote the principle of land stewardship and foster the voluntary protection of open space, scenic beauty and natural resources of the Elk River and adjacent watersheds in Curry and southern Coos Counties, Oregon. Partnering with landowners, Wild Rivers Land Trust explores non-regulatory methods to safeguard the rural way-of-life Americans cherish. The Trust’s projects integrate improvements to the lives of local people while protecting areas of ecological concern. Wild Rivers Land Trust is based in Port Orford, Oregon. To learn more, visit www.wildriverslandtrust.org.
Craft3 is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) providing loans that strengthen businesses, families and the environment throughout Oregon and Washington. Since inception in 1994, Craft3 has invested more than $400 million in people and businesses from offices in Ilwaco, Port Angeles, Seattle, Spokane and Walla Walla, Washington and in Astoria, Bend and Portland, Oregon.
In partnership with the conservation community, Craft3 has provided more than $7.4 million to conserve 1,588 acres in Oregon. The Craft3 Conservation Bridge Fund is a regional source of capital for qualified organizations to acquire land, water rights or conservation easements, and finance restoration work ahead of permanent funding. To learn more, visit www.Craft3.org/LandConservation and www.Craft3.org.
About the Wild Salmon Center
Wild Salmon Center works to protect the strongest wild salmon rivers around the entire North Pacific, from northern California and the Pacific Northwest, up to British Columbia and Alaska and across to Russia and Japan. They target salmon strongholds – the richest, strongest salmon rivers in the Pacific – because it’s easier to protect rivers while they are still healthy and thriving. They build alliances with the most effective local and regional partners working in the North Pacific’s salmon strongholds. We help these groups design and implement winning strategies built on our scientific, political, legal, fundraising and communications expertise. For more information, visit www.wildsalmoncenter.org.
For the future of the forest
John Jones' longtime dedication to Camp Myrtlewood results in WRLT's first conservation easement
John Jones’ boots grip into the soil as he hikes along a winding trail from his small homestead in the Oregon foothills to the forested area of Camp Myrtlewood. He stops every few minutes to point out plants and trees along the path. “Do you see that over there?” John gestures to a decaying tree rising from the forest floor. “That is a deliberately-made standing snag.” “They are very conducive to wildlife. Do you see the holes in it? Woodpeckers eat the bugs from these dead trees, and songbirds come to nest in them.” John points to a group of fallen logs along the forest floor. “We thinned out about one-third of the trees so the others can grow faster and become bigger,” he explains. “The idea is to help the stand become healthier with less competition – and to allow other plants like these evergreen huckleberries, maples, hazelnut, tan oaks and other vegetation to come in and make the forest more diverse.”
This particular stand of trees was planted with Douglas-fir in the 1960s. But new life is sprouting today, largely due to active forest management by John, recently retired director of Camp Myrtlewood, and Wild Rivers Land Trust’s conservation director Jerry Becker. John has spent more than 30-years immersing himself in this landscape, learning and teaching others about the ecology, restoring habitat, and working with the 160 acres of land.
Some landscapes found on the Camp Myrtlewood property are part of a “no-touch zone.” These areas contain many species of trees with multiple types of brush covering the forest floor. “In the no-touch zones, there is no need to plant new trees or cut down trees. It is already a very healthy diverse forest,” John says.
Life At Camp Myrtlewood
Those who visit Camp Myrtlewood can hike along a variety of trails, take in scenic vistas, breathe in the deep scents of the evergreen forest, spot wildlife and meander along banks of the stream. Springtime sunshine sprouts colorful wildflowers. Swimming holes cool off campers during the summer, and in late fall a variety of mushrooms pop up from the moist, fertile soil. John says the natural setting at Camp Myrtlewood taught him a lot about the environment, and himself, during his 30-years as camp director. He and his wife Margaret raised two children on the property.
In 1994, 11-years in to his career as camp director, John felt unclear about his future, and began a spiritual journey to seek clarity. “One of the things that came to my mind was that I really needed to protect the camp’s land,” he says. “I had developed a relationship with the land. I felt close to it and responsible for it. I made up my mind something had to happen.” “I knew whatever I ended up doing I wanted the camp protected, and I wanted something down in writing about how to take care of it.”
During the next 20-years John never lost sight of his goal. He met WRLT’s Jerry Becker in 1999. “John has a great understanding of the value of a forest for human renewal and inspiration. He knows there is a connection between healthy forests and healthy people,” Jerry says.
In the early 2000s, John and Jerry began a baseline study collecting and analyzing data on every acre of the property, ultimately creating an eco-forestry plan. “Jerry and I became friends with the common ground of looking at Camp Myrtlewood carefully and deciding what we had, and what should be protected and how we might start protecting it,” John says.
Creating an easement
Over the next decade, John spearheaded creek and forest restoration projects. He also embarked on a long fundraising process, including selling his prized-Volkswagen bus for the cause. John was finally able to see his goal for a conservation easement come to fruition on Sept. 30, 2015. The conservation easement at Camp Myrtlewood was carefully crafted between Wild Rivers Land Trust, John Jones and the religious nonprofit corporation Pacific-Northwest District Church of the Brethren. A conservation easement is a legal binding document that outlines how to take care of the land. It has specific guidelines on caregiving, and must be followed by the current and future landowners. “It becomes an attachment right with the deed. Anybody who buys the land, no matter who it is, must respect it legally,” John says. “That’s where the long-term protective status of the land trust comes in. We made an agreement with the land trust to make sure the easement is honored.”
Back to Nature
Camp Myrtlewood is currently owned by the Church of the Brethren, and serves as a children’s camp and adult retreat. More than 2,000 visitors come to the camp every year from a variety of religious and non-religious groups. “I believe that our society today is suffering a lot - particularly kids - but you can see it in adults as well, from what I call nature deficit disorder. That’s when we are so involved in our gizmos – our computers, cell phones and those kinds of things,” John says. “No matter who you are, you still have the need to be in nature. To be balanced, to be well, you need to be in relationship with nature. It’s something that can really bring us together.”
Exploring our wild landscapes
Wild Rivers Land Trust’s service area, stretching from the Coquille River in Bandon to the California Border, from the uplands to the sea, provides a wild and rugged landscape teeming with one-of-a-kind plants, animals and geology. Our service area has the highest concentration of wilderness areas anywhere in the state of Oregon, and the highest concentration of wild and scenic rivers of anywhere in the nation. The rugged, precipitous terrain supports some of the most productive fisheries in the lower 48 states. Our South Coast watersheds are not only the nursery for a variety of fish species, they also serve as critical habitat for birds and wildlife. “We have such a diversity of habitats,” says Wild Rivers Land Trust board member Jan Hodder. “We have estuaries and rivers that are totally different from each other. There’s the incredible shoreline and coastal area, and really diverse offshore habitats. Also, the Siskiyou Mountains have a really
unique geology in our southern area.”
Throughout the year, WRLT will be exploring the variety of ways our Wild Rivers communities and landscape stands out. Check back to this page in the next few months to learn more!
Bringing salmon back to Bear Creek
Restoration creates widespread impact in the Elk River Watershed
Just a few years ago, efforts to find salmon spawning along the 217-acre Bear Creek property came up empty. Today, restoration efforts conducted by the Wild Rivers Land Trust are bringing new life to the creek – and the entire Elk River Watershed. After working diligently to secure the Bear Creek Natural Area, Wild Rivers Land Trust went one step further to head up a hands-on habitat restoration project along Bald Mountain and Bear Creeks. With funding from the South Coast Watershed Council, we were able to place 50 logs in Bear Creek, and plant riparian trees along the stream banks.
When staff from Wild Rivers Land Trust and the South Coast Watershed Council returned to the restoration site a year and a half later, they were delighted to see the streams teeming with salmon. The groups recorded 100 adult salmon in and near the restoration site in December, 2015. Ten of these salmon were the endangered Coho. This amount of salmon hasn’t been seen at the site in decades.
Wild Rivers Land Trust’s habitat restoration projects not only resulted in demonstrable increase in salmon, it also supports habitat for steelhead and cutthroat trout in Bald Mountain Creek. Bald Mountain Creek is considered the most important tributary for steelhead rearing and production in the entire Elk River watershed. The entire forest will thrive as bears, eagles and scavenging species distribute nutrients from spawned salmon within the Bear Creek Natural Area. The natural area is also important for marbled murrelet recovery. The property contains a murrelet nest tree and is surrounded by old growth forests on bordering land.
Prior to the restoration of Bear Creek Natural Area, decades of clearcutting and roadbuilding eroded the banks along Bear Creek and Bald Mountain Creek, causing landslides to crash into the streams. A study from the Oregon Game Commission in the mid-1960s indicated that Bald Mountain creek historically contained Coho and Chinook salmon. But an increase in sediment and elevated stream temperatures likely contributed to their decline. “The Bear Creek property was infamous when I first heard about it in the early 1980s,” said WRLT Conservation Director Jerry Becker. “I remember thinking ‘It’s too bad, I can’t do anything about that.” But that didn’t stop Jerry from taking swift action when he learned the property was for sale in 2010. This piece of land (formerly known as the McGribble Tract) was up for sale by a regional timber company. Jerry worked to secure a loan and purchase the land from the willing seller, Roseburg Resources, in 2013, Jerry spent the next two years working on funding and carrying out the restoration. Today the free-flowing waters provide spawning, rearing, and migration corridors for coastal fish species and biological corridors for plants, mammals and birds. Jerry and the rest of the staff at Wild Rivers Land Trust are proud to present the Bear Creek Natural Area as a living demonstration of how effective conservation practices can create broad ecosystem impacts in a short amount of time.
Preserving Purple Mountain prevents a fragmented forest
Even a relatively small piece of land can make a big impact on the forest ecosystem when it is located right in the middle of old growth forestland.
That’s why Wild Rivers Land Trust’s conservation director, Jerry Becker, decided to make the 160-acre parcel of land, known as Purple Mountain, a conservation priority. Purple Mountain is surrounded by towering trees - some more than a century old. These living giants are the home of the endangered Marbled Murrelet seabird. Fish also depend on the area for survival. The most productive steelhead tributary in the Elk River Watershed (Bald Mountain Creek) runs through the property.
In May, 2016, the goal to conserve the Purple Mountain property became a reality for Wild Rivers Land Trust. “The Land Trust's acquisition of the Purple Mountain property reduces the fragmentation of a significant stretch of old growth forest, and protects downstream habitat for salmon and trout,” Jerry said. The Land Trust's ability to acquire the property not only preserves plant and wildlife habitat, it gives the public access to a new area for outdoor recreation, including hiking, photography and gathering mushrooms.
Wild Rivers Land Trust staff are planning restoration activities on Purple Mountain to further protect salmon and steelhead in Bald Mountain Creek. Planting root rot-resistant Port Orford cedar trees will reduce the amount of erosion falling into the stream and protect downstream habitat.
Allowing this piece of forest to grow and mature will prevent invasive creatures that don’t belong in old growth forest from moving in, Jerry said. A well-established forest protects endangered species from predators – such as crows and ravens that feed on marbled murrelet eggs and chicks.
Wild Rivers Land Trust partnered with nonprofit lender Craft3 to secure the property.
“The Purple Mountain tract is our third loan to Wild Rivers and shows the power of capital to build capacity, address community needs and preserve our natural resources,” said Brad Hunter, Craft3 business lender.
The Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts has also expressed encouragement for Wild Rivers Land Trusts latest conservation effort.
“Wild Rivers Land Trust continues to bring great benefits to communities along the South Coast,” said COLT executive director Kelly Beamer.
Staff at the land trust intend to work with the Forest Service in the future to transfer ownership of the land, where it would be managed alongside surrounding old growth forests. “By purchasing this property, we are essentially adding 160 acres to the old growth reserve area,” Jerry said.