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Harkens Lake Conservation Easement Benefits Native Fish

Harkens Lake area
The Harkens Lake area is east of Monroe and a historically important Willamette River floodplain. Greenbelt Land Trust photo.

Feb. 15, 2012

Corvallis, Ore.— Fifty-two acres of Willamette River frontage property in Benton County will be permanently protected due to the efforts of Greenbelt Land Trust, the landowner, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the Bonneville Power Administration and the Meyer Memorial Trust.

The easement, acquired from property owner Bill Pitcher, will be held by the Greenbelt Land Trust, which will restore it to historic conditions to protect native fish, including chinook salmon, cutthroat trout, Oregon chub and Pacific lamprey. The easement brings the total conservation area managed by the land trust at Harkens Lake to 371 acres.

Harkens Lake includes a significant historic side-channel of the Willamette River that provides critical habitat for native fish populations. The property’s floodplain forests and riparian areas will be actively restored, decreasing erosion and flood damage from seasonal inundation throughout the 100-year floodplain. Greenbelt Land Trust is in the process of creating a management plan that will provide guidance for restoration projects at Harkens Lake.

Funding for this project was dedicated through:

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, through its Willamette Special Investment Partnership (SIP). The goal of the Willamette SIP is to identify and implement high-priority land conservation, fish passage, and habitat flow restoration projects that contribute to the enhancement of resident and migratory fish populations in the mainstem and tributaries of the Willamette River.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program, which was created to manage the funds dedicated to the State of Oregon by the Bonneville Power Administration for wildlife habitat mitigation in the Willamette Valley. The agreement requires a substantial investment in wildlife and fish habitat restoration over the next 15 years. 

Bonneville Power Administration funding helps fulfill an agreement that the State of Oregon made in 2010 to protect nearly 20,000 acres of Willamette Basin wildlife habitat. The agreement dedicates stable funding from electric ratepayers for 15 years to safeguard Willamette habitat for native species, supporting state efforts to protect the Willamette Basin and fulfilling BPA’s responsibility under the Northwest Power Act to offset the impacts of federal flood control and hydropower dams.

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Contact:

Jessica McDonald, Greenbelt Land Trust, Development Director, (541) 752-9609
Laura Tesler, ODFW Willamette Wildlife mitigation staff biologist, (503) 947-6086

 
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