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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 4.16.2009

 

Earth Day 2009

Carpets of Wildflowers, Canopy of Oaks Restoring native plants across the city

At Home with Native Plants Garden tour on Mother’s Day

Just Say No to the Butterfly Bush

The Camas Among Us A common spring flower invokes Kalapuya heritage

Livin’ Green, Even in Winter Nature, raw and processed

 

Students, Volunteers and the Land

Seven years of restoration efforts with Walama

by Rachel Foster

Michael Klinkebiel, Walama Restoration Project staff, puts old papers to good use.  Photo Stephanie Schroeder

I vividly remember my first encounter with Walama Restoration Project (WRP). I was sitting on a friend’s deck one fine summer evening about seven years ago, when a suntanned dude with a thick braid down his back approached us, clipboard in hand, and began to talk about the plight of rare wetlands and native oak habitat in the Willamette Valley. Already a fan of oaks and wetlands, I was hooked. The man with the braid wasYotokko Kilpatrick. He founded WRP in 2001 as a nonprofit dedicated to environmental stewardship, which it pursues through chemical-free habitat restoration and education. Kilpatrick now serves as director of operations (the restoration side) while executive director Stephanie Schroeder is responsible for education and outreach. 

WRP’s educational programs are designed to connect students and the community with the natural environment, providing opportunities to learn about biodiversity and native habitats and to engage actively in restoration. Working with the City of Eugene, Cottage Grove, Lane County, the Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council, the McKenzie Ranger District and a dozen public and private schools, WRP has reached more than 2,200 students since 2002. Programs vary from simple planting and seeding activities to the sophisticated Coast Fork STREAM program (it stands for Students Trained in River Enhancement, Awareness, and Monitoring) in which 350 Cottage Grove students have learned about watershed ecology and water quality testing in the Coast Fork of the Willamette. Last year, WRP hired an Americorps intern, Liza Kachko. In addition to helping Schroeder and Kilpatrick expand and manage several of WRP’s educational and stewardship programs, Kachko has turned out volunteers in unprecedented numbers.

Kilpatrick, meanwhile, directs field crews in restoring degraded land in the Southern Willamette Valley. Under fee-based contracts with public agencies and private landowners, WRP has stabilized river banks, enhanced threatened oak habitat and wetlands and helped to remove ivy from seven City of Eugene parks. They’ve planted more than 50,000 native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants in the process. WRP also adopts public land parcels for unpaid restoration work. These stewardship sites, which include part of Maurie Jacobs Park (north of the Greenway Bike Bridge to Valley River Center) and the Butterfly Meadow in Alton Baker Park’s Whilamut Natural Area, provide opportunities for WRP’s education programs and volunteer work parties. Some provide a laboratory for new restoration techniques. Others are valuable sources of seed from which WRP grows starts for other projects. 

WRP’s membership has grown steadily over the years, as has the board. Last year (with the invaluable help of a student consulting team from the UO business program) we formulated an ambitious four-year action plan to guide future activities and increase board participation. WRP’s activities have never seemed more necessary, and while restoration services are financially self-supporting, education and outreach programs depend on community support. Call 484-3939 or visit www.walamarestoration.org to get involved.

Rachel Foster is a member of WRP’s board of directors and a regular contributor to the EW.

 

 

Help Bring Back an Endangered Habitat!

One of Walama Restoration Project’s most visible accomplishments is the Butterfly Meadow at the Whilamut Natural Area in Alton Baker Park. If you would like to help create and preserve habitat for birds, butterflies, and other insects in a restored upland prairie, join a Saturday morning work party on April 25, May 9, May 23, June 20, or July 11, 9:30 am to 12:30pm. Tools, gloves and refreshments are provided. 

On June 20, following the work party, there will be an open house at the Butterfly Meadow, 1 pm to 4 pm. For directions or more information please contact Liza at Liza@walamarestoration.org or call 484-3939. Or visit www.walamarestoration.org and click on ‘Get Involved.’