EUGENE, Ore. — Twenty years ago a joint effort began to save the West Eugene Wetlands. While that effort is ongoing, Saturday those involved looked back on their progress and worked to spread the word about the wetlands and why they’re so important to our ecosystem.
By bike or by foot, dozens of Eugene residents took a few minutes to stop and learn about the natural habitat of the hundreds of species in the West Eugene Wetlands.
“Over 400 plant species, over 30 or 40 different kinds of birds coming here, amphibians. So it’s an environment, breathing environment,” said Jerry Perez, Bureau of Land Management State Director.
The extensive natural beauty made possible by an equally extensive collaboration between local, state and federal governments as well as some environmental non-profits. They said it’s taken at least two decades to restore the 4,000 acres of wetlands.
“Those areas are really valuable for our community. They provide an excellent place to bring your family to enjoy nature close to home. They also provide a lot of other values like they help clean up water, help protect from flooding and provide habitat for a myriad of species,” said Trevor Taylor, natural areas restoration supervisor.
Saturday, the public got a chance to learn more about what makes these wetlands so special. “We’re really interested in having people learn about the wetlands and come out and enjoy them. We have this beautiful resource in our community with great bike paths, lots of open spaces and nature really close to home where we can come learn about nature,” said Taylor.
All the organizations involved in getting these wetlands to where they are now lined the Fern Ridge bike path, offering their knowledge to anyone interested in knowing about every little thing that calls these spaces home. “It’s more important to understand how you’re connected to it, your impacts to it. If you don’t understand what your activities are and how it effects some land, it could have adverse impacts down the way,” said Perez.
The BLM is currently coming up with its plan for the future of the wetlands and what other restorative efforts it’ll take to beautify this space.