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Natural Area honors the late Gail Achterman and preserves wildlife habitat

Gail Achterman Natural Area

Deciduous swamps on the Gail Achterman Natural Area provide habitat for many species including native turtles, frogs and herons.
-Photo by Ann Kreager-

June 27, 2016

SALEM, Ore – One of the largest and most intact riparian forests remaining along the mainstem Willamette River is now permanently protected to benefit Oregon’s native fish and wildlife.

The Gail Achterman Natural Area (also known as Hayden Island) protects 270 acres. This area downstream of Independence, Ore., is one of the only significant riparian forests remaining in the 34-mile stretch between the Santiam River confluence and Willamette Mission State Park.

The Achterman property consists of priority habitats identified by the Oregon Conservation Strategy including riparian habitat, wetlands with deciduous swamps, and freshwater aquatic habitats. These habitats are home to Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Band-tailed Pigeons and owls, and have the potential for use by Chinook salmon, steelhead, Western pond turtles, Northern red-legged frogs, and Pacific lamprey. Many neotropical birds and waterfowl also use the site.

“This natural area is exactly the type of property we work hard to aquire through the WWMP,” said program coordinator Laura Tesler. “It has significant habitat value for Oregon Conservation Strategy Species.”

Strategy Species are those at risk of decline and of conservation concern.

ODFW will control invasive Himalayan blackberries and reed canary grass, and will investigate reconnecting a side channel for more fish habitat benefits. The public can access the property by boat.

Gail Achterman, a Portland natural resources lawyer, public servant and conservation leader died in 2012. The Trust for Public Land worked with Achterman’s friends and family to raise funds to protect the area as a tribute to her. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife acquired the property through its Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program (WWMP).

The WWMP is funded by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) though a 15-year agreement between ODFW and BPA to permanently settle wildlife mitigation responsibilities in the Willamette Valley.

In addition to funding from the Achterman group, funding also was provided by Bonneville Power Administration, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the Oregon Department of Transportation.




Laura Tesler, 503-947-6086
Ann Kreager, 541-757-5246

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