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Willamette Basin Conservation and Restoration Opportunities

A collective effort by all residents of the Basin can improve conditions for wildlife despite increasing human population. Conservation can take many forms, and restoring native habitats is a long, complex and often challenging process. We can all make small changes in our daily lives that can help improve environmental quality--conserve water and electricity, use native species in our landscaping, reduce use of pesticides and fertilizers. Some of us may protect or restore native habitats on a small scale on our own land or in our neighborhoods.

Willamette Basin habitat

Habitat conservation strategies in the Willamette Basin will also require broader public support for government action to protect and restore important places, both on publicly owned lands and through cooperative efforts with private landowners. This is one of the aims of the Willamette Restoration Strategy.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest Ecosystem Research Consortium assessed likely conditions of the Willamette Basin in 2050 under three plausible future scenarios, including a Conservation 2050 scenario. A primary assumption of this scenario is that conservation and restoration of native habitats, and the species dependent on them, will be increasingly important. It also assumes that we will prioritize conservation and restoration options in the hope that future land and water use by humans can minimize adverse effects on these areas.

Two tiers of conservation and restoration lands would be phased in under Conservation 2050. Tier 1 lands are managed as naturally functioning landscapes; for example, a county park managed as native woodland, savanna and grassland communities. Tier 2 lands are managed to produce goods and services in harmony with natural processes. As an example of Tier 2 land, think of a poplar plantation on agricultural land within the river's floodplain. The plantation isn't fully "natural" but it provides much of the structure and many of the same "services" as a bottomland forest, such as water storage and wildlife habitat.

Excerpted with permission from

Grossman, E. (2002). A Place for Nature: Willamette Basin Habitat Conservation Priorities (p.20.). Defenders of Wildlife

Hulse, D. (2002). Conservation 2050. In D. Hulse, S. Gregory, and J. Baker (Eds.). Willamette River Basin planning atlas, 2nd. Edition, (p.90.). Corvallis: Oregon State University Press