The Mulkey Forest 170 acre forested property acquired in September, 2015. The Mulkey Ridge Forest property was purchased through a generous bargain sale with the landowners, Andrew and Lauralee Martin, who had previously sold Bald Hill Farm to the Trust in 2013.
“For nearly thirty years this property has been envisioned by Greenbelt Land Trust as a critical addition to the Bald Hill/Fitton Green conservation complex. Because of Andrew and Lauralee’s generosity we were able to make this vision a reality,” says Michael Pope, Executive Director of Greenbelt Land Trust.
The protection of the Mulkey Ridge Forest offers a large landscape-level approach for sustaining some of Oregon’s most important natural resource legacies in the mid-Willamette Valley. This area is also in the heart of the recovery and restoration zone described in Benton County’s Prairie Species Habitat Conservation Plan and includes diverse habitat types such as riparian and aquatic areas, bottomland hardwood forest, upland and lowland oak woodlands, savanna grasslands, upland and wet prairie. In combination with the adjacent lands, the Mulkey Ridge Forest provides considerable ecological value that would otherwise be lost in a more fragmented landscape.
The property serves as a critical connecting parcel between adjacent protected lands, creating a 1,400 acre nexus of protected natural lands and 17 miles of interactive trails systems for our community. Adjacent lands include: Bald Hill Natural Area, Bald Hill Farm, Lupine Meadows, and Fitton Green Natural Area.
The permanent protection of the Mulkey Ridge Forest was enabled through a strong partnership with funders Bonneville Power Administration through their Wildlife Mitigation Program. The Bonneville Power Administration contributed $947,500.00 in funding for the purchase and long-term stewardship of the property. Land purchases such as this are part of the 2010 Willamette Wildlife Habitat MOA – a 15-year agreement between the State of Oregon and BPA that provides stable funding for more than 26,000 acres of wildlife habitat acquisitions in the Willamette Valley. The property purchases help to offset the impacts of federal flood control and hydroelectric facilities on the Willamette River and its tributaries.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program manages the funds dedicated to the state by the Bonneville Power Administration. The Willamette Wildlife Habitat MOA agreement requires a substantial investment in fish and wildlife habitat restoration over the next 15 years.
The long term focus of management of the property will be expanding oak savannas and upland grasslands across sections of the property in collaboration with the larger landscape management goals of adjacent County and City landowners and increasing the health and resiliency of the oak woodlands. These goals include the creation of more functional wildlife corridors, transitional edges, and connecting rare and ESA listed populations of plants and butterflies across contiguous properties.
Mulkey Forest is accessible through a public trail system that connects Bald Hill Farm to Fitton Green Natural Area. For information about publicly-accessible trail systems in Benton County, see The Right Trail website: www.therighttrail.org.
“We all benefit from access to open spaces nearby, and the protection of the Mulkey Ridge Forest enables our children and grandchildren to have a special place close to home for recreation and renewal,” reflects Pope. “Through the support of people like Andrew and Lauralee and the supporters of Greenbelt Land Trust, we are ensuring that these properties that mean so much to us all will be here for generations to come.”