Rasor Park is a 10-acre park and restoration site on the banks of the Willamette River in Eugene, Oregon. Map.
The park was procured by the City of Eugene in the 1970s as part of the establishment of the Willamette Greenway. A Master Plan for the park was completed in 2001.
Visit the Park
Rasor Park is located in Eugene's River Road neighborhood, with access via the riverside bike path (West Bank path), and sidewalks or bus stops along RIver Road. There is limited on-street parking at the north end of the park along Stephens Drive (via Stults Ave.) Map.
Zones of the Park
Oak Woodland: The north end of the park is graced by a small woodland with Oregon white oaks, Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, Pacific madrone, and thickets of snowberry and other native shrubs. This woodland forms a majestic north entry to the park along the West Bank bike path, and provides habitat for many birds and other wildlife species. The trees and shrubs and even some wildflowers here (trillium, fawn lily) are indigenous to the site.
Riparian Corridor: Further south, mature cottonwoods, big-leaf maples, Oregon ash, and various non-native trees and shrubs, form a narrow ripiarian forest along the river side of the bike path. [There is no safe river access here, as the riverbank has been armored with riprap, which drops steeply to the river's edge. There is also poison oak all along the bank here.]
On the opposite (inland) side of the bike path, the Friends of Rasor Park and the City of Eugene have done several rounds of native tree and shrub planting in an effort to restore a wider swath of riparian forest. You will see young big-leaf maple, ponderosa pine, Oregon white oak, and Oregon ash, as well as Indian plum, Lewis' mock orange, ocean spray, snowberry, red-flowering currant, and other understory plantings.
Central Meadows: The interior of this site was mapped by early settlers as "oak openings" in the riverside forest, with "yellow pine." This was upland oak savanna—a grassland dotted with widely-spaced Oregon white oaks and ponderosa pine trees. [Oak savanna was once common throughout the Willamette Valley, but is now very rare. It is a landscape noted for its diversity of plants and its value to wildlife.] Parts of the site were later built upon, gardened or planted with orchard trees, and in other ways disturbed. Eventually the site was colonized by invasive grasses, weeds, blackberry, and other woody shrubs. Once established as a park, it was maintained as a rough-mowed field for some years. After the Master Plan was completed, Oregon white oaks and ponderosa pines (and other native trees, shrubs and wildflowers) were planted, and there was a change in mowing practices to allow the grass to grow tall again. In addition to the planted trees, you will see Pacific madrones, snowberry and wild rose thickets, some patches of (planted) native wildflowers—camas, wild iris, mule's ears, checkermallow, and slender cinquefoil. There are a few remnant natives re-emerging, too: prunella, wild strawberry, a native rush, a few native grasses, and most recently, rose checkermallow. Additional plantings of native grasses and wildflowers are coming to the north meadow zones later this year!
Amenities: The West Bank (multi-use) bike path parallels the Willamette River along the east boundary of the park. There is also a bike path connector across the park to River Road. There are mowed paths meadering through the tall grass meadows, and benches at two locations along the river side path. There is also a rough-mowed "multi-use" area near River Road for tossing frisbees or other low-impact recreation. The City also maintains mowed fire breaks around the entire perimeter of the park.
Caution: There is poison oak all along the river bank, and also throughout the northeast quadrant of the park (woodland and north meadow zones.) Stay on paved or mowed paths to avoid coming into contact with this plant.
Wildlife Habitat: The park is a good place to see osprey, bald eagles, and herons along the river; Western tanagers, woodpeckers, and towhees in the woodland; and swallows circling over the open meadows at dusk. The park is also home to squirrels, voles, pocket mice, garter snakes, salamanders, alligator lizards, dragonflies, butterflies, and more.