In 2009 Greenbelt Land Trust permanently protected this 199 acre property located in the floodplain of the Willamette River between Corvallis and Albany in Linn County. The Little Willamette conservation easement permanently protects natural, scenic, and open space values that have been lost to land use change and development in the Willamette Valley. This property has a mix of habitats, including wetlands, prairie, riparian forest, and is home to a historical side-channel of the Willamette River. The Little Willamette 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, Little Willamette 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 Horseshoe Lake, Bowers Rock State Park, Tripp Greenway, Riverside Landing, and Hyak County Park.
The Little Willamette conservation easement was enacted through a strong partnership with the landowner, Ed Rust, and funding agency Bonneville Power Administration in partnership with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Meyer Memorial Trust.
A Management Plan for Little Willamette provides guidance to the long and short-term restoration goals for the property. Much of the site is in the historic floodplain of the Willamette River and some areas were likely open wet or upland prairie with oaks. Future habitats identified include floodplain forest, oak savanna, upland prairie, wet prairie, and vernal pools.
Access to the Little Willamette property is limited to GLT-led tours and events at this time.