Rivers to Ridges partners manage over 4,700 acres of river floodplain, prairie and oak savanna habitat at the confluence of the Coast Fork and Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Partners work together to protect and restore these high-diversity habitats and preserve the natural benefits of flood control, water filtration, agricultural and fisheries production, recreation and tourism provided by this natural gem in the heart of our community.
A History of partnership and vision
Lane County, The Nature Conservancy, Willamalane Park and Recreation District, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah work together at the Confluence in the realization of a vision that goes back to 1973 when Governor Tom McCall and the Oregon Legislature approved the purchase of over 3,500 acres. At that time, 2,300 acres were acquired in the area that became Lane County’s Mt. Pisgah/Howard Buford Recreation Area.
In 2010, Governor McCall’s vision was finally realized when The Nature Conservancy acquired the 1,272-acre Wildish parcel, contiguous with the Lane County property. Other public lands adjacent and across the river total over 1,100 acres, and include Willamalane Park and Recreation District’s Dorris Ranch Living History Farm, Clearwater Park and Georgia-Pacific Park, as well as Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Glassbar and Pisgah river access landings.
The resulting landscape of riverfront, forest, prairie and savanna is the largest protected natural area in Eugene-Springfield and a key economic, ecological and recreational anchor for our community.
Restoring the river
Rivers to Ridges partners are not only protecting this important natural area for the community, but working to restore the natural functions and benefits of the habitat. Restoring the floodplain of the Confluence area will have far reaching benefits for the productivity of the river.
Side channels will be reconnected and allow the river to access miles of floodplain habitat. Hundreds of acres of riparian habitat will be replanted with native vegetation. Chinook salmon and steelhead will benefit from reduced stream temperatures and gain critical off-channel habitat and refuge for juvenile fish. Floodplain restoration will also benefit other native species such as Oregon chub, red-legged frog and western pond turtle.
Above the floodplain, restoration of the prairie, oak woodlands and savannas will improve habitats used by over 200 wildlife species.