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Habitat restoration underway at Willamette Mission State Park
by Holly Hofstead - The Oregon Herald
Published on Tuesday February 23, 2016    4:40 PM     
 
SALEM, Oregon - Volunteers are invited to help plant trees and shrubs at Willamette Mission State Park on Saturday, Feb. 27 as part of a habitat restoration project coordinated by Willamette Riverkeeper in partnership with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. 

The work party is part of the Willamette Mission Floodplain Reforestation Project, which aims to restore vital fish and wildlife habitat on 417 acres of forested habitat over the next few years. The project is a culmination of several years of planning, fundraising and two years preparing the site by removing noxious weeds. The first phase of on-the-ground work began in 2013 in the 200-acre Beaver Island region of the park. 

"One of our project goals is to educate and engage local community members, park user groups, and youth in environmental stewardship through service learning opportunities," said Marci Krass, Restoration Coordinator for Willamette Riverkeeper. "We want to encourage more people to take part in this park's transformation and feel some ownership in the forest they are helping to restore." 

The work party is from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 27. Volunteers will meet at the Hazelnut Grove parking area. Volunteers can show up on the day of the event or emailmarci@willametteriverkeeper.org to register. 

Willamette Mission State Park is comprised of 1,329 acres, located within a 15 mile publicly-owned corridor, and has been identified by The Nature Conservancy as an "anchor habitat" in the Willamette Basin, providing one of the highest quality habitats for diverse wildlife species, such as fish, amphibians and birds. Scientists have identified important cold water points in the park that serve as ideal fish habitat for fish species including lamprey, Chinook, coho, and steelhead. 

The park contains one of the largest and most dynamic floodplain forests in the Willamette Valley. Floodplain forests occupy low-lying areas adjacent to large rivers. Along the Willamette River these forests provide important habitat for salmon to forage for food and rest during the winter months. 

Over the past century, the floodplain forests at Willamette Mission have become overrun with large patches of invasive plants, which now dominate the forested understory. On-the-ground restoration work began in 2013 to address a variety of ecological threats to the established floodplain forest, prioritizing the landscape scale removal of invasive weeds. Native plants are already beginning to grow back and thrive in areas where invasive plants were cut and sprayed. 

Additional project partners include Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Meyer Memorial Trust, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bonneville Power Administration, Ducks Unlimited, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Stockfleth Seeds, Arbor Day Foundation, and Ash Creek Forest Management. 

MORE about Willamette Riverkeeper: Willamette Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization that works to protect and restore the Willamette River. Programs are focused on enforcing the Clean Water Act, connecting Oregonians to their local river through monthly paddle trips, monitoring and cleaning urban riverfront areas, and enhancing and restoring habitat for fish and wildlife. Willamette Riverkeeper also helped to establish the Willamette River Water Trail in partnership with Oregon State Parks, now recognized as a National Water Trail. For more information visit www.willametteriverkeeper.org.