Corvallis, Ore — A 199-acre tract of land zoned for two-acre residential development near Philomath, Ore., will now be permanently protected wildlife habitat, thanks to the efforts of the landowner, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Greenbelt Land Trust.
The conservation easement – created through this unique partnership of private, government and nonprofit interests – is located in a priority conservation area. It contains high-quality native upland prairie habitat and oak woodlands, both identified as rare habitats that have almost disappeared due to urban expansion and farming in the Willamette Valley. In fact, it is estimated that less than 5 percent of these habitats in the Willamette Valley today remain relatively intact.
The easement will be held by the Greenbelt Land Trust to protect and enhance habitats important to dozens of wildlife species, including the Fender’s blue butterfly, which is listed as an endangered species. The property could also provide habitat for migratory and resident bird species, such as the acorn woodpecker, streaked-horned lark and white-breasted nuthatch.
Known as the Lone Star Ranch, the property will remain in private ownership by the Noble family. Under terms of the conservation easement, the Nobles will continue their livestock operations on the property. With the exception of a 13.3-acre portion already in use, the 199-acre Lone Star Ranch can never be developed.
The Greenbelt Land Trust will work with the Noble family, BPA and ODFW to create a management plan that spells out conservation objectives and actions, including biological research, control of invasive weeds and enhancement of native oak woodlands and upland prairies.
“The Lone Star Ranch is a critical link in our efforts to conserve upland prairie and oak savannah habitats in the Willamette Valley. The Greenbelt is excited about this opportunity to work with the Noble family to integrate habitat conservation within a working ranching operation,” said Karlene McCabe, executive director of the Greenbelt Land Trust.
BPA provided $2.4 million to fund Greenbelt Land Trust’s purchase of the conservation easement. This provides BPA with credits for partial mitigation of wildlife habitat losses due to construction and operation of federal hydroelectric facilities on the Willamette River. The Greenbelt Trust also contributed funds from private donations for legal costs, appraisals and staff time to negotiate the terms of the easement.
“The immense habitat value of this site will be protected into the future, as large tracts of land in the Willamette Valley are rapidly being converted to other uses,” said Greg Delwiche, BPA’s vice president of Environment, Fish & Wildlife. “We’re pleased to be able to partner with the Noble family and the Greenbelt Land Trust to make this a win for the region for many generations to come.”
This easement, by protecting key prairie and oak habitats, supports the objectives of the Oregon Conservation Strategy for the Willamette Valley.
“Conservation easements that allow landowners to continue some traditional land uses but also protect critical habitat values for wildlife are great conservation tools,” said Michael Pope, ODFW’s Conservation Strategy coordinator. “Partnerships with private landowners, organizations such as Greenbelt and state and federal agencies are critical for the maintenance of healthy fish and wildlife populations, particularly in the Willamette Valley where 96 percent of the landbase is privately owned.”
Photos available on request. Contact: Karlene McCabe, Greenbelt Land Trust, 541-231-8818, firstname.lastname@example.org
BPA is a not-for-profit federal electric utility that markets more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest. The power is produced at 31 federal dams and one nuclear plant in the Northwest and is sold to more than 140 Northwest utilities. BPA operates a high-voltage transmission grid comprising more than 15,000 miles of lines and associated substations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
Greenbelt Land Trust is a regional land trust that works with landowners to conserve and protect in perpetuity native habitats, working lands and lands of natural beauty, which provide a connection to the natural world for the residents of the Mid-Willamette Valley.
The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state.