A project to restore wildlife habitat on the Willamette River near Eugene has reached a milestone. Non-profit groups collaborated on Turtle Flats to reconnect 21 former gravel ponds.
The work is on the Coast and Middle Forks of the Willamette at their confluence. Chris Orsinger is Executive Director of Friends of Buford Park and Mount Pisgah.
Orsinger says, “What this allows is for the salmon and the steelhead and the cutthroat trout, during high flows, to access these areas that are going to become more naturalized over time as the river rises in the winter and starts to re-contour them in addition to the re-contouring we did with our machines.”
The project involved moving more than 144 million pounds of sand and gravel. It’s in partnership with the Nature Conservancy which owns part of the 200 acre site with Friends of Buford Park and Mount Pisgah.
Orsinger says this fall and winter they’ll need volunteers to help plant native trees and shrubs along the river to enhance the habitat for fish, birds and other critters. The effort is funded by grants and individual contributions.