People power at the Park

More than seventy volunteers placed over a thousand plants


November 11, 2021 | View PDF

Brandi Crawford Ferguson

Hyatt Zeni was happy to do his part to help out with the replanting the Blue River Park last Saturday.

BLUE RIVER: Holiday Farm Fire recovery efforts got a boost last week when dozens of volunteers spent a Saturday digging into the dirt. Over the course of the day, 70 community volunteers helped plant 1,200 native plants and shrubs.

For himself and other park board members Tony Casad, said, "We are so grateful to all of the amazing volunteers who showed up and for the leadership of the McKenzie Watershed Council and the Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District in helping to make this project possible for the Blue River community."

The wildfire did extensive fire damage to the public park, taking out an old shed, and the baseball backstop, along with badly damaging the outdoor fireplace. When board members first started assessing the destruction, it looked at times like the park would need to be clear-cut. Yet after much careful consultations with multiple agencies, they were able to save around 30 to 40 trees, without resorting to a total tree removal.

There was also good news when the park received a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to replace the backstop, repair the shelter's roof and replace all of the signs in the park.

During last weekend's work day, people focused on the area around the playground equipment and along the asphalt path by the old shelter as well most of the upper portion of the park.

Casad credits the many partner organizations for spreading the word about the event, participating, and encouraging people interested in the McKenzie Valley to join residents during the rehabilitation. Those other organizations included the McKenzie School District, McKenzie River Locals Helping Locals, Lane County, McKenzie Valley Long Term Recovery Group, Ninkasi Brewing, Suu-lutaaq Corp, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Upper Willamette Soil & Water Conservation District, the McKenzie Watershed Council, McKenzie River Trust, Windermere Real Estate, and Friends of Finn Rock.

"The Pure Water Partners are excited to work with the Blue River Park District to help restore native vegetation after the Holiday Farm Fire," according to Jennifer Weber, Restoration Program Manager with the Mc-Kenzie Watershed Counci "We look forward to hosting more opportunities for the community to come together to put a shovel in the ground and help bring back the beauty of this very special community park."

Brandi Crawford Ferguson

McKenzie Community School superintendent Lane Tompkins and his family.

The park is going to have a very different look once different projects are finished, but the park board says they hope that, "By the time we welcome you back it will also be a much better place for locals and visitors alike. We will share ideas going forward and will give everyone a chance to have a say in what the vision for the new Blue River Park will look like."

Casad said, "This planting was shrubs and bushes for the inner part of the park. We will have another planting focusing on the riparian area in the latter part of January 2022. This will be larger trees, both evergreen and deciduous varieties ."

There are also plans to have a town hall meeting to discuss the "Park Master Plan" and get community input. (The Master Plan Draft can be seen on the Park Website

In addition, board members are encouraging folks to attend the monthly Park Board meetings, which are on the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m.


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