Friday, March 27, 2020

A Spring of Some Significance

This Spring has been a season of historical significance in more ways than one.  With local, governmental authorities asking citizens to distance themselves socially, school children on an extended leave from school, and many others in isolation, we are challenged to rethink how we can continue grow and be involved in our community. We also recently experienced the earliest first day of Spring in 124 years. At the equinox, where the hours of daylight are equal to that of the hours of dark, nature reminds us that it's cyclical rhythms will continue to turn and to pass even in evolutionary challenging times. We are also entering into a period of increasing light where the days are becoming longer than the nights. In the spirit of all that is happening, I am excited to share a plethora of resources to keep you engaged in hope  that you remain happy, healthy, and in good spirit.

Warm Regards,

Laura Maloney
WREN Program Coordinator

FREE Self-Guided Activities and Resources

Self-guided Bike Tour of the West Eugene Wetlands:
In celebration of Spring time and in the spirit of health and modified community involvement, I mapped out a bicycle adventure through the West Eugene Wetlands and captured some signs of Spring for you and your families to enjoy. CLICK HERE to access the 12-mile, self-guided, interpretive bicycle tour. I hope that you enjoy the adventure as much as I did!

Sensory Scavenger Hunt:
Spend an afternoon outdoors exploring the sites, sounds, and smells of nature in this Sensory Scavenger Hunt friendly for younger children and families. 

Dragonfly Learning Activities:
Dragonflies are engineering marvels! Learn about the dragonfly life-cycle, dragonfly flight, and design your own dragonfly in these learning activities suitable for upper Elementary and Middle School students. Bonus dragonfly mask craft! You can access the learning materials, craft templates and activity instructions HERE

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


To learn more about WREN's mission, history and programs, visit WREN's new website at 

We are currently seeking volunteer board members, volunteer Environmental Educators, and a Social Media volunteer. If you are interested in helping out and would like to learn more about one of the opportunities, please contact us at

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Beavers Help People in Creating Dynamism on Green Island

Elizabeth Goward, Volunteer Coordinator
for the McKenzie River Trust talks about beaver monitoring program

12/10/19, WREN Wetland Wander participants explored beaver activity and learned about the beaver monitoring programs on Green Island with Elizabeth Goward, Volunteer Coordinator with the McKenzie River Trust.

Weighing in at 60 lbs, which is the approximate weight of a Golden Retriever, beavers are among the largest rodents in the world. With iron-clad enamel wallpapering chisel-like teeth, beavers eat and use trees like it’s their job, and it is! Though, no other animal is quite as accomplished in their work as the beaver. Beavers are the only animal to be listed three times as being an adaptive management tool for climate change and are one of most relevant keystone species.

Even though beavers can live up to 40 years in the wild, the females cannot reproduce until they are about three years old and have one litter of, on average, six-kits a year. As the kits get older, they help mom and dad with raising the youngest kits. Even though beavers can produce larger litters, only about 1/3 of the kits make it to adulthood. That’s because beavers have a reputation of being quite tasty and experience high predation. Predators of the beaver include coyotes, hawks, and even mountain lions!

High predation is the reason why beavers are adapted to build an environment where they can be safer. They do this by building the water table up to bring them closer to their food source. This in turn creates ponded areas that become an attractive habitat for more wildlife. This adaptation makes beavers an important keystone species meaning that their environmental impact is so large that it supports a wide-array of wildlife, including species of animals that can only live in beaver ponds, such as the Trumpeter swan, who is often seen nesting on top of beaver lodges.

Beavers eat the cambium layer of trees, which is very nutritious. They build up larders of cut down and branches and trees in mud underneath the water to help them through the tough, winter months. Since beavers have the habit of taking down trees, it is a common misconception that the work they are doing is destructive to the environment. One of the goals of the Beaver Believers, a monitoring program with the McKenzie River Trust, where volunteers use smart phones to conduct stream-watch surveys and to document and record beaver activity in the Upper Willamette watershed. This project helps scientists better understand the benefits of beavers on local aquatic ecosystems.

Observations from the field have shown that beavers are excellent land managers, who are adept at creating a rich mosaic landscape and mitigating risks to the surrounding ecosystem. Data has also shown that beaver ponds in the Upper Willamette improve juvenile Coho salmon habitat rather than causing conflicts for migrating salmon. The McKenzie River Trust see beavers as helping them achieve their vision to restore historic habitat types, including those that support a good habitat for little fish, and since the beavers have moved back to the island, fish numbers are no longer declining.

As people living off of the land, there are many restoration strategies we can learn from beavers who have a 100% track-record of creating more environmental dynamism. With the help of neighbors, partners, volunteers, and over 600,000 native tree and shrub plantings, Green Island is an excellent model of humans and beavers working together in land restoration.

To learn more about beavers, check out the book Eager by Ben Goldfarb and the documentary Leave it to Beavers. To learn more about Green Island, about volunteering with Beaver Believers, or to become a member of the McKenzie River Trust, visit 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

OSTA Conference: SPLASH!

On Friday, October 11th, WREN's Environmental Education Specialist Annie Carter attended the 2019 Oregon Science Teachers Association Conference at Lane Community College. This event brought together teachers from around the state to share lessons and ideas and discuss ways to better integrate innovative teaching standards into the classroom. Annie led a session at the conference about SPLASH!, a stormwater curriculum WREN has been updating for the City of Eugene. She was accompanied by Jeffrey Flowers from the City of Eugene Public Works Department.

When it rains in a natural, undeveloped landscape, water is absorbed into the ground and taken up by plants. Only a small portion of that water travels across the ground, picking up debris before it reaches surface waters like lakes and rivers. This is known as stormwater, runoff, or non-point source pollution. Due to a much higher proportion of impermeable surfaces in urban environments, only a small fraction of water gets absorbed into the ground and the rest becomes runoff. Everything from loose trash to complex chemicals can become a contaminant in the runoff of developed environments, and these pollutants negatively affect water quality for humans and wildlife. Teachers participating in the OSTA session learned how runoff affects recreation safety and habitat quality, ways to limit the negative impacts of runoff, and specific activities in the SPLASH! curriculum. Using materials like coffee filters, crushed oyster shells, and gravel, teachers constructed water filters using the engineering process. Their filters addressed specific water quality parameters like turbidity, dissolved solids, and pH.

WREN is still in the process of revamping SPLASH! curriculum for elementary and middle school classrooms. Lesson and activity plans, worksheets, and activity materials will all be available for teachers on request, free of charge, from the city. From designing and testing filters to analyzing their own school yards, SPLASH! teaches students that in order to protect our local waterways, we must all think of ways to reduce our impact on the landscape and make choices that keep pollutants out of our waters.

Monday, September 9, 2019

National Public Lands Day 2019

Saturday, September 28th
9:00-12:00 p.m.
West Eugene Wetlands Project Office; 751 S. Danebo Ave.

National Public Lands day aims to get people connected with the public lands in their community and is the largest single-day volunteer effort in the nation. This year, WREN is partnering with the BLM to highlight the resilience of public lands.  

Bring your family, friends, students, and coworkers to spend the morning giving back to our community spaces! Volunteers will help paint a mural, clean-up garden beds, plant natives, pick up trash and more. 

Attendees will receive a coupon good for a free entry to any public land managed by one of the federal partners, a t-shirt and snacks and beverages.

This September, celebrate something we all share: our public lands!