BLUE RIVER, Ore.-- Officials say the sale of land on the Blue River from the McKenzie School District to a conservation non-profit is a win-win for students and environmental efforts.
Land along the river was donated to the school district in 1986 in hopes that timber harvest would fund scholarships for local students. District officials said a lack of resources stopped that plan from becoming a reality.
Instead, the McKenzie River Trust purchased the steep-terrained land for conservation purposes in December. The $197,000 sale was funded by an anonymous donor.
Officials say the majority of that money will go towards funding much-needed scholarships.
"We were a pretty timber-dependant community, and some of those resources have dwindled away so, anytime you can get resources to get students closer to the dream of college or other post-secondary training is great," said superintendent Lane Tompkins.
The Blue River flows into the McKenzie River, the source of clean drinking water for the Eugene-Springfield area. The McKenzie River Trust said they are protecting the land from further development, ensuring a buffer between contaminants, loose soil and the pure river water.
"We are looking at this to protect the conservation values which included the forested hillside that's right above Blue River and protecting the water quality there," said conservation director Daniel Dietz. "This really is a benefit to people and the environment. And those things go hand in hand, especially in our watershed."
According to Dietz, trees and vegetation on the riverbanks act as a filter for water coming downhill. The area also acts as a natural place for flood waters.
Blue River resident Edward Henderson said he fell in love with the beauty of the area. He thinks conservation working hand-in-hand with education is a win-win for the community.
"To think that they are preserving the area and giving scholarships to kids? My gosh! what could be better?" Henderson said. "Otherwise, they're up here, what are they going to do? We hate to see them move, but you can't see the world from Blue River."
The Blue River Trail runs through the land, and officials say it will continue to be maintained.