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.