The public is invited to review a new habitat management plan for Lane County’s most popular Park on Thursday. KLCC’s Rachael McDonald joined Lane County’s Natural Areas Coordinator Ed Alverson at Buford Park to find out more.
We meet at the east entrance to Mount Pisgah.
“We’re looking at are of wet prairie. With pretty high diversity of native prairie grasses and wildflowers. In particular, this is habitat for a rare endangered plant called Bradshaw’s Lomashum that only grows in wet prairies and only in the Willamette Valley.”
Alverson says that particular wildflower is one of the conservation targets in their habitat management plan.
“The organization of the plan is that we selected a small number of species and habitats that kind of represent the range of native diversity that’s here in the park. So we kind of focus on developing the strategies and the actions for those focal targets. And the idea is that then it will benefit all of the species and habitats in the park.” Alvorson2
Alverson says part of what makes this more than 22-hundred acre park special is the variety.
“It’s a very diverse site with a wide range of habitat types present so that leads to a wide range of wildlife species that can live here and plant species that live here. I think there’s over 400 native plant species here. Wildflowers, grasses, trees, shrubs. That’s a really large number.”
Alverson says that’s why it’s so important to have a plan for how to conserve the unique habitats.
“In the Willamette Valley where so much of the landscape has been taken over by cities and farms and industrial forestry. There’s not many places like this, especially of this size.”
The conservation plan includes 15 management goals over 15 years. They include restoring and enhancing prairie, oak savanna and woodland habitats. Alverson says the visitor experience is also on that list. 400-thousand people come to Buford Park each year.
“This is probably our most visited park in the Lane County Parks system and much beloved and we want to make sure that the people that visit the park are able to enjoy their visits. There are actually things we’ve identified in the plan that will enhance the experience.”
Alverson says things like trail improvement are part of that goal. He says the park was established in 1972. The habitat conservation plan has been in the works for years. It follows some of the principles of the first inhabitants of this valley—Native Americans.
“It was their management, burning in particular that created the landscape that settlers to the Willamette Valley encountered. And over the last 150 years, there’s been a lot of changes and we’ve lost a lot of that habitat and there are few places like mount Pisgah where we’re thinking we can kind of take that vision again and apply it to the landscape to benefit all of the native species that live in this type of landscape.”
The public can learn more about the draft Habitat Management plan for the Howard Buford Recreation Area at an open house Thursday evening from 5 to 7 at Harris Hall in Eugene. The plan will then be reviewed by the parks advisory committee and then the Lane County Board of Commissioners for approval.