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Watershed Council's Work Recognized

MONMOUTH -- Three regional groups this month are honoring the Luckiamute Watershed Council for its restoration and conservation work in southern Polk and northern Benton counties.

MONMOUTH -- Three regional groups this month are honoring the Luckiamute Watershed Council for its restoration and conservation work in southern Polk and northern Benton counties.

The Public Lands Foundation is recognizing the council's cooperative efforts on Bureau of Land Management land with an award, and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust this month are encouraging council plans to create a Model Watershed program in the Upper Luckiamute River area, which includes the Kings Valley, Hoskins and Pedee areas.

The Upper Luckiamute River area is an important habitat for steelhead and trout, and rare land-based species, including Fender's Blue butterfly. It is also a productive forestry and agricultural region.

The Public Lands Foundation, a non-profit organization made up largely of BLM retirees, has chosen the council for the Landscape Stewardship Award.

The award honors the work of private citizens "to advance and sustain community-based stewardship on landscapes that include, in whole or in part, public lands administered by BLM," according to Scott Snedaker, BLM fisheries biologist from the Mary's Peak Resource Area.

In 2008-2009, the council worked closely with Snedaker, BLM, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, and private landowners to improve the roads, culverts and stream health of Maxfield Creek. Improvements now provide access to commercial forestry operations while improving fish and wildlife habitat in the Kings Valley area.

The Public Lands Foundation will present the award at a public event Nov. 18 at the Salem BLM office.

The Maxfield Creek project is an example of the type of projects that may continue in the Upper Luckiamute region if the Willamette Model Watershed project is fully funded next year. The Luckiamute Watershed Council was one of just four other watershed groups in the Willamette Basin given the green light, and a planning grant, to fully prepare and propose a 10-year Model Watershed project. If the program is fully funded, Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust funds would support watershed improvement projects and follow-up in the Kings Valley, Hoskins and Pedee areas of Polk and Benton counties.

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