Horseshoe Lake is a 236 acre floodplain property acquired through conservation easements and purchases with four landowners in 2012 and 2013. Located on the east bank of the Willamette River between Corvallis and Albany, this property is a historic ox-bow of the Willamette River, and has a mix of habitats, including wetlands, prairie, and riparian forest. Horseshoe Lake permanently protects natural, scenic, and open space values that have been lost to land use change and development in the Willamette Valley. Horseshoe Lake has been identified as a key site for Willamette River floodplain protection in the Willamette Basin Planning Atlas and Oregon Conservation Strategy’s Conservation Opportunity Areas.
This site offers significant natural, aesthetic, scientific, and educational values. With the array of wetland and upland prairies, side channels, woodlands and floodplains this property will conserve some of the Willamette Valley’s rarest habitats and associated wildlife species. Focal and priority species that include prairie plants, western pond turtle, red legged frog, western gray squirrel, bald eagle, western meadowlark, western bluebird, acorn woodpecker, Oregon vesper sparrow, yellow breasted chat, waterfowl, and native fish.
Located within a priority conservation area, Horseshoe Lake joins additional adjacent properties (both State and private) into a conservation zone that includes 4-5 river miles of the mainstem Willamette River. Nearby protected lands include GLT’s Little Willamette, Bowers Rock State Park, Tripp Greenway, Riverside Landing, and Hyak County Park.
The permanent protection of Horseshoe Lake was made possible through strong partnerships with landowners: Art and Judy Waggle, Bill and Barbara Stellmacher, and the Carnegie Family. Funding for the acquisitions was provided by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Bonneville Power Administration in partnership with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and a loan from Craft3 with support from Meyer Memorial Trust.
Although altered disturbance regimes and non-native plant and animal invaders make it unrealistic to recreate the ecological communities that characterized the pre-Euro-American landscape, historic information and maps can guide habitat restoration activities so as to sustain native plant and wildlife diversity as fully as practicable. Much of Horseshoe Lake is in the historic floodplain of the Willamette River and some areas were likely open wet or upland prairie with oaks. Desired future habitats include floodplain forest, oak savanna, upland prairie, wet prairie, and vernal pools. The Management Plan for Horseshoe Lake has been developed to compliment restoration goals and practices on GLT’s nearby Little Willamette conservation property.
Horseshoe Lake is accessible through GLT-led tours and events only at this time.