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Amazon Headwaters Saved

DEBORAH NOBLE OF THE BE NOBLE FOUNDATION
DEBORAH NOBLE OF THE BE NOBLE FOUNDATION

The Eugene City Council this week gave advocates for preserving the headwaters of Amazon Creek something to be thankful for over the holidays. The council agreed Nov. 24 to acquire two lots of property in the Martin Street area to add to the Ridgeline Trail system. The Be Noble Foundation will acquire a contiguous third lot. The three lots, totaling about 26 acres, contain two main branches of the Amazon Creek headwaters as well as lush habitat for both plant and animal wildlife.   

The city of Eugene will pay $1.125 million, funded by $1.1 million from the parks bond measure passed by the voters in 2006, and a $25,000 donation from the Lane County Audubon Society. Be Noble Foundation will pay $625,000 and maintain ownership of one lot with a conservation easement in memory of the Erin Noble who died in a private plane crash in 2012.

The newly acquired natural area will supplement existing public park and natural areas in the vicinity of the Amazon headwaters, including Frank Kinney Park on the north side of Martin Street and more than 100 acres along a main tributary of Amazon Creek to the east and south of the newly acquired area. Amazon Creek, which drains about 60 percent of the city of Eugene, “flows through a diverse mix of land uses including forested headwaters, highly urbanized lands, parks, natural areas and farmland on its 22-mile westward journey to the Long Tom River,” reads a prepared statement from Craig Carnagey, director of the city’s Parks and Open Space Division, and Charlie Tebbutt, spokesperson for Be Noble Foundation.

This land provides a valuable ecological corridor between the Amazon greenway and the headwaters of Amazon Creek, according to the Be Noble website. The website also notes that this site was identified by the Army Corps of Engineers in its Metro Waterways study as a priority open space acquisition area for the protection and restoration of Amazon Creek. 

“For over a decade many people in the community have wanted to see this property come into public ownership,” Carnagey says. “This parkland acquisition will both enhance natural resource protections in the headwaters of Amazon Creek, and provide more recreational opportunities for all Eugene residents to enjoy.”

“Erin Noble, a beloved member of the community, had committed to assist in the efforts to preserve this important ecological area before he tragically died,” Tebbutt says. “He was, among his many talents and interests, an avid hiker who frequently trekked through the headwaters area to the Ridgeline Trail and Spencer’s Butte summit. Erin’s parents set up Be Noble Foundation to carry on Erin’s commitments to preserve Eugene’s vsion of the Amazon headwaters.” Tebbutt says the foundation will ask that the area be named in Erin Noble’s memory.

Heather Sielecki, president of Southeast Neighbors Neighborhood Association, is quoted in the statement saying, “after so many years of uncertainty, to have this area added to the Ridgeline Trail system for all Eugeneans, present and future, to enjoy, is remarkable. We thank the Nobles and the city for this important legacy.”