Western Rivers Conservancy is working to restore the once extensive floodplain along the Willamette River. With seventy percent of Oregon's population residing in the Willamette Valley, the floodplain has become a nearly uniform landscape of tilled acres and urban centers. As a result, flood events have increased in frequency and severity, and the diversity of habitat and wildlife has dwindled.
Fortunately, the building blocks for a Willamette floodplain restoration program still exist. Outstanding remnants of the natural river environment, including backwater sloughs, oxbows, and gallery forests, persist in pockets along the river. For over a decade, WRC has worked to acquire these "relic areas" and adjacent properties, working to connect remnant channels and restore the natural character of the Willamette River and its floodplain.
Willamette River, First and Second Lakes
Western Rivers Conservancy's first acquisition in the Willamette River Floodplain Restoration Project is a spectacular urban wetland on the Willamette River in the City of Albany. The 165-acre area, home to seventy species of birds, contains a mile of Willamette River shoreline, riparian woodlands, upland forest, wetlands, and two lakes: First and Second Lakes.
As part of a Supplemental Environmental Project with the Environmental Protection Agency, Simpson Timber Company donated the riverland in 1995. A conservation easement was also secured over the lakes, and transferred to the City of Albany. Western Rivers Conservancy transferred the shoreline portion to the Oregon State Parks Department. Interpretive information and wonderful hiking trails with great wildlife viewing are now available to the City of Albany.