***This event is currently full. To add your name to the waitlist, please email email@example.com or call the Greenbelt office at (541) 752.9609.
Water is life! Explore our local rivers that are the lifeblood of the mid-Willamette Valley’s people and wildlife. Join this special interactive tour of the Luckiamute River near its confluence with the Willamette River and nearby Santiam River in Polk County. This free and family-friendly outing is co-hosted by Greenbelt Land Trust, Luckiamute Watershed Council, and Polk Soil & Water Conservation District. We’ll see first-hand select land and water protection projects underway, habitat restoration efforts in action, and how the power of partnerships helps to conserve this place we all call home. Tour sites include the upstream Jont Creek tributary of the Luckiamute River and downstream’s Luckiamute State Natural Area and the Willamette Bluffs conservation area. Come learn about this dynamic river system in our backyard- it’s rich in cultural history and natural importance!
Note: There will be a fair amount of walking on this tour.
As the landowner talked about river ecology, the dynamism of streams and the importance of backchannel habitat, Harley squatted down to the gravel bar, picking up rock after rock, after rock (after rock, and rock) – each one then thrown with glee into the creek at his feet. The delight was contagious, as the adults in the crowd couldn’t help but divert their eyes away from the talk at hand, to rest on the cherubic youngster so satisfied with this rock-throwing business. Each of us laughing at the simple pleasures of life as a two year old.
A few hours earlier our group listened to a respected Geologist talk about geomorphology, the Tyee formation, and the impact of the Missoula floods on western Oregon as we perched atop a bald mountain overlooking valleys and rivers below. Out of the corner of my eye I spy Harley, with a well-traveled toy dump truck in hand, contentedly carting miniature loads of gravel up and down a 5 foot section of the imposing forest road, unaware of the science at hand.
This youngster does not need the facts and figures to understand the world around him. His life is still at the mystical stage of sharing discussions with bugs and beatles, fish and pebble. There is no need to rationalize the joy behind his life or of nature, it just is.
With rubber boots thwapping in the dense green grass, Harley runs to his mom, eager to share the flower he has found. Eagerness practically spilling out of his smile and squeal.
At Greenbelt we often talk about the need to protect land, water, and livability for ‘future generations’. However, it is in moments like this when it becomes perfectly clear who we really are talking about. The weight of the responsibility to steward and safeguard our natural resources becomes a little more meaningful, a little more imperative, for every Harley that we encounter.
Harley is swept up into his mothers waiting arms, unaware of the impact that his presence has made on us adults, who will continue into our day with the residue of the child’s innate joy left in our thoughts. Inspired, I can’t help but pick up one pebble and throw it into the stream as well, entirely pleased with the plopping sound it makes as it sinks down into the gravel bed.