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!

Family Exploration Day 2019

Saturday, September 14th

10:00am-2:00 p.m.
West Eugene Wetlands Project Office; 
751 S. Danebo Ave.

In celebration of our partnership with the BLM and the Every Kid Outdoors program, WREN will be hosting a very special FREE Family Exploration Day focused on engaging kids and their families in recreation and stewardship of our public lands.

WREN experts will be leading short, interpretive walks through the wetlands, facilitating an art project using inks and dyes derived from natural sources, and checking out backpacks filled with goodies for self-guided exploration. Drop by anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. WREN staff and volunteers will be leading walks on the hour. Light refreshments will be provided.   

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

August Wetland Wander

Thank you to Abby Colehour (in red) from the Long Tom Watershed Council for leading a lovely Wetland Wander at Coyote Creek South! 

This wet prairie restoration site is now home to streaked horn larks, a federally listed threatened species, and will hopefully provide critical habitat for endangered red-legged frogs too. Abby toured us around the site and described the construction and seeding involved in the project, and pointed out interesting plants with medicinal properties such as gumweed (yellow) and a species of epilobium (pink). 

As we were leaving we chanced upon a European mantis (Mantis religiosa)! Seconds after this photograph was taken she decided to use her raptorial forelegs on the fingers holding her, but fortunately neither man nor mantis were harmed in the exchange. 

Stay tuned for details about our upcoming Wetland Wander in September!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Winecup Clarkia and Queen Anne's Lace 
decorate the trail leading to our new interpretive panels, highlighting the importance 
of the West Eugene Wetlands. 

Come out to the Tsanchiifin Trail and enjoy the splendor!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Celebrate WREN's 20th Anniversary with us!

Thank you for learning with WREN!

In the 2018/19 school year, WREN has reached 2,300 learners with NGSS supported curriculum!

Thank you all for learning with WREN!

We look forward to having you join us for our Family 

Exploration Days Summer programming.

10-2 p.m.

Saturday, July 13th
Golden Gardens

Saturday, August 10th
Meadowlark Prairie

Saturday, September 10th
Tsanchiifin Trail

Friday, May 10, 2019

Welcome Annie!

Welcome Annie, our new Americorps Intern! 

Annie grew up in Cleveland, where she developed an interest in wildlife conservation and sharing her passion for the natural world with others while volunteering at the Cleveland Natural History Museum. She double majored in Biopsychology and Environmental Studies at Tufts University and gained more environmental education experience through summer internships. After graduating, Annie spent time teaching English in Brazil and led outdoor natural science programs on Nantucket. She came to Oregon last winter to work on an organic goat dairy and settled in Portland afterwards working with a local watershed council. In joining WREN, Annie is pursuing her goals of making the world a better place for all living things, connecting people to nature, and promoting environmental conservation; she believes everyone should have access to the psychological and physical benefits of healthy natural spaces. In her spare time, Annie enjoys hiking, reading mystery novels, and cooking elaborate meals with friends. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our City Nature Challenge Bioblitz event! From April 26-29th, Eugene/Springfield competed against 149 other cities world-wide recording flora and fauna observations using the iNaturalist app. We rocked the weekend with a total of 2,400 nature observations!

For a more detailed look at what we discovered, visit our iNaturalist webpage here: 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Vernal Pools!

O'Hara Catholic School 2nd graders discovered many wonders in the West Eugene Wetlands' vernal pools, this week, including this salamander eft as well as Pacific Chorus frog tadpoles, Mayfly nymphs, and Caddisfly larvae. Many of the creatures that make their homes in the vernal pools can only live in the highest quality water. This kind of diversity is an excellent sign! There is still time to experience the vernal pools before they dry-up. Schedule a visit, today!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thursday, March 14, 2019

City Nature Challenge Bioblitz

City Nature Challenge Bioblitz

Join WREN and the BLM in a communal, citizen science effort to record as many species as possible in Eugene over the weekend. We will be using the iNaturalist phone app to photograph and collect data on the local flora and fauna at Stewart Pond. Every observation will contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. We share your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe. No experience necessary and all ages welcome! Sponsored by KIND Snacks. Contact Laura Maloney, WREN's Program Coordinator, at, for details on how to participate

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


At WREN, we are committed to educating the community about the important role that wetlands play in keeping our waters clean. Wetland plants not only filter out excess nutrients and pollutants from storm water runoff, but the soils successfully trap heavy metals, preventing them from entering other waterways. 

This March, share what water means to you -- #MyWaterWhy.  

Monday, February 25, 2019

Winter Storm

Winter Storm Ryan transforms Sandpiper and Grimes Ponds

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Americorps Position

We have an Americorps position open! WREN is looking for an Environmental Education Specialist. Click the link below for more information:

Monday, February 4, 2019

February Wetland Wander

Wetland Wander

Join WREN and BLM staff for a 3-4 mile hike at See Sil site. See Sil is comprised of white and black oak Savanna, upland, and wet prairie ecosystems. We will talk about some of the recent projects, such as the prescribed burn, look for signs of the acorn woodpecker colony that inhabits the site, and explore other seasonal changes. Conditions are wet, muddy, and hummocky. Please come prepared with appropriate footwear and bring binoculars. Participants are asked to meet at the west end of Royal Ave near the gravel parking lot. 

Directions: Take Royal Avenue west to the ODFW parking lot at Fern Ridge Reservoir. If you have an ODFW permit you may park in the lot, otherwise park along Royal Ave. The site is on the north side of Royal, to the east of the house near the end of the road; look for the gate with BLM signage, and WREN staff.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Into the Arctic

Don't forget to buy tickets to the Nat Geo series event: Into the Arctic Kingdom with Florine Schulz on January 29th! Get 20% off tickets when you use the code: WREN20

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Thank You

Thank you all for joining Jason, Mieko and I for our first Wetland Wander of the year over at Turtle Flats. We enjoyed exploring the fish and turtle restoration efforts made by The Nature Conservancy and The Friends of Buford Park and learning more about what the future holds for this special site.

Friday, January 4, 2019

January Wetland Wander

Wetland Wander
Location: Turtle Flats

Turtle Flats is a 63 acre conservation property owned by the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah located at the western entrance to the Greater Mount Pisgah Area near the confluence of the Coast and Middle forks of the Willamette River. The site features 6 ponds, the confluence of Russel Creek and Wild Hog Creek, as well as connections to the Coast Fork of the Willamette River. Since 2015, the Friends have undertaken intensive restoration efforts to remove trash (hundreds of tires, concrete, bales of steel rebar, asphalt, a vw bug...), manage invasive species, reshape former gravel pits to better accommodate emergent vegetation and wildlife as well as to connect them to the rivers for off-channel fish habitat. Volunteers, staff, and contractors installed and cared for tens of thousands of plants over the last few years. 
Friends host work parties the second Saturday of each month for volunteers to assist with stewardship activities including installation of native plants, invasive species management, and monitoring vegetation and wildlife.

This link shows a map with the pin at the entrance gate: 
From 30th Ave., head east past LCC and cross over I-5. Turn left at the stop sign (Franklin Boulevard). Take the next right after the Shell station (Franklin Boulevard East) and pass under the railroad tracks.  Note the chain link fence on the left and look for the gate just before the road curves to the right. The gate will be open and someone will show you where to park. 

Please wear your rubber boots! 

Wetland Wanders are casual walks through the West Eugene Wetlands. Walks are free and open to the public. Bring water and appropriate layers, WREN will provide binoculars.