Make the McKenzie Connection!

Get paid for shade

New program leases streamside land to plant trees

The ecological benefits of forests along a river’s edge benefit fish and wildlife habitats. They also help improve water quality by shading the stream, filtering out excess sediments and nutrients, as well as eventually contributing large wood to build instream habitat complexity in the river. Shade is important because solar radiation can warm the water too much for native cold-water fish such as salmon, trout, and lamprey during critical times in their life cycles.

Thanks to a new program property owners can also realize an economic benefit if they agree to plant and maintain a mix of native trees and shrubs inside a 60-foot buffer along their riverbanks. The Freshwater Trust is now looking to connect with landowners along the banks of the McKenzie, Mohawk, Middle Fork Willamette, Coast Fork Willamette, and Row Rivers, along with some selected creeks for streamside (riparian) enhancement projects.

There is no cost to the program, according to the Freshwater Trust. According to a spokesman, the project was designed “to improve the health of our rivers and streams and enhance critical habitat while supporting clean water on private lands across the Upper Willamette watershed.”

Besides covering the costs of the plants, site prep, and planting, the partnership will also remove invasive vegetation such as Himalayan blackberry and install livestock exclusion fencing if needed. Not only is there no cost share or work share, but landowners will receive yearly lease payments that average $350 per year per acre for participating in the program.

The Freshwater Trust notes a number of anticipated impacts should include things like long-term suppression of invasive vegetation, and decreasing minor to moderate bank erosion while helping to decrease threats of flooding.

The planting program was developed through the cooperation of local watershed councils the Pure Water Partners, and the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission, as well as local suppliers and contractors.

To learn more about the streamside planting program or to schedule a no-obligation site visit, contact Alexis Graves, Restoration Program Coordinator at [email protected] or call (925) 719-7926.


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