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Conservancy group, tribes team up to protect 'oasis' in the Willamette Basin

Statesman Journal, June 10, 2013

By: Zach Urness

STAYTON — The enthusiasm was impossible to miss.

As members of the Western River Conservancy and Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde bushwhacked through a former farmstead along the North Santiam River, they used phrases such as “oasis,” “ideal” and “the best fish and wildlife habitat in the Willamette Basin.”

High praise indeed.

The groups are part of a coalition that purchased this property southwest of Stayton for a conservation project that hopes to improve salmon and steelhead runs on the North Santiam River.

The property, which cost $3.5 million, includes two miles of waterfront — one mile of creeks and one along the North Santiam — and 338 total acres of forest, wetlands and old farmland.

“This farmstead has been on our radar for a long time, because we recognized the remarkable conservation value,” said Josh Kling, assistant program director of the Portland nonprofit Western River Conservancy. “What makes it special — and unique — is that half of the property is intact, functioning habitat.

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Related Project: North Santiam River