Soils, hydrology, and plants align uniquely in many areas of Eugene to form the foundation of our wetland habitats. Many parks, such as Amazon Park or Gudu-kut, contain remnant wetland ecosystems that support a variety of specially adapted animals and plants. In the western portion of town, the West Eugene Wetlands include a much larger 3,000+ acre interconnected assemblage of wetland prairie habitat.
Historically, much of the Willamette Valley was dominated by this plant community. Most of it has been lost, making the remaining areas within Eugene’s Park and Open Space system even more valuable. These areas not only provide homes to a wide diversity of animals and plants, but they also provide important functions for our community such as cleaning our stormwater, helping reduce flooding impacts, and providing beautiful landscapes for recreation, education, research, and solace.
The West Eugene Wetlands is a nearly 3,000-acre complex of wetlands and associated uplands located west of downtown. Based upon the objectives of the West Eugene Wetlands Plan, an ambitious effort to conserve and restore the wetlands began in the early 1990s. The Rivers to Ridges Partnership (formerly known as the West Eugene Wetland Partnership) formed among multiple agencies and non-profit organizations to work together to protect and restore the wetlands, and provide outreach and education opportunities. Today, the wetlands are enjoyed by bikers and pedestrians, nature enthusiasts, families, and school groups, and have been recognized in Oregon and nationally for their high-quality restorations.
The West Eugene Wetlands are comprised mainly of wet prairie, a grass- and wildflower-dominated habitat type historically common in our area, but rare today. The West Eugene Wetlands’ wet prairies provide high native plant diversity and habitat for wildlife species that depend on grasslands, such as the western meadowlark, Oregon’s state bird. Lane County’s highest known diversity of dragonflies and damselflies occurs in a ponded area within a West Eugene Wetland site, and beaver, river otter, and Pacific chorus frogs join the over 200 wildlife species that call the West Eugene Wetlands home. Rare plants and the Fender’s blue butterfly, a federally-endangered species, are also present in the West Eugene Wetlands. In addition to wet prairies, habitat types found in the West Eugene Wetlands include vernal pools, emergent wetlands, upland prairie, oak savannas and woodlands, and ash swales.
The cornerstone of the West Eugene Wetlands Program is a multiple-objective, watershed and wetland management plan called the West Eugene Wetlands Plan. It was originally adopted in 1992 by the City of Eugene and Lane County, and in 1994 by the Oregon Division of State Lands and the US Army Corps of Engineers. It was updated and amended by Eugene and Lane County in 2000 and 2002. The plan was then re-printed in May 2004, and it is available to download and view as PDF files below.
Please note: there may be errors or omissions in this document that are not contained in the original, as a result of conversion to web format. Do not rely on this web version for legal purposes.
Grant-Funded Website and Guide Highlight Wetland Prairie Restoration Techniques
Eugene Parks and Open Space is proud to announce the Practical Guidelines for Wetland Prairie Restoration in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, which distills 10 years of research and lessons learned in the Willamette Valley region. The restoration guide was developed by the City of Eugene, Lane Council of Governments, and the Institute for Applied Ecology to share how-to recommendations with wetland restoration practitioners and promote effective wetland conservation. The findings of the research are being used by other land managers who work with wetland prairie habitats from Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia.
In addition the new website represents the capstone to a 10-year U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-funded research project undertaken by Parks and Open Space staff and partners. Wetland Prairie Restoration: An Online Resource is a comprehensive introduction to the history and ecology of wetland prairies in the Willamette Valley and an overview of the restoration process. The web page, which is hosted on the Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership website, was created by students in the University of Oregon’s Environmental Leadership Program.
In addition to the website and guide, Parks and Open Space staff, along with partners at the Institute for Applied Ecology and Jeff Krueger Environments, hosted a workshop to train over 90 wetland experts in wetland prairie restoration techniques using the City’s Coyote Prairie as a demonstration site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency generously provided funding to support this 10-year project through multiple wetland program development grants to the City and its partners.
For more information, please contact Diane Steeck (Ecologist) at 541-682-4927.
Visit these links to to learn more about this beautiful and valuable resource just waiting to be explored:
- Birds in West Eugene
- Butterflies in West Eugene
- Dragonflies and Damselflies in West Eugene
- Reptiles, Amphibians, and Mammals in West Eugene
- Historical Vegetation in West Eugene
- Land and Water in West Eugene
Short URL to this page: www.eugene-or.gov/wetlands