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Willamette Basin Explorer

"Preserving and restoring natural ecosystems is one way citizens of the Willamette Valley choose to maintain their quality of life."

"By 1850...[the] ecological mosaic that had seen relatively gradual change for a 1,000 years entered a period of rapid change. This change continues today, with population in the basin projected to reach nearly four million people by 2050, nearly double today's number. This is equivalent to adding 13 cities the size of Eugene."

"Settlers fresh from the Oregon Trail often described the Valley as Eden at the end of the Trail. Tall grasses covered much of the valley. The hillsides were park-like with grass and large spreading oaks. Wildlife was everpresent, including grizzly bears, wolves and giant condors. Flocks of birds so thick they darkened the mid-day sky were common."

"Periodic fires maintained the tree communities on the hilltops and edges of the valley as either savannas or woodlands. Cessation of burning changed the structure of these open woodlands by allowing repopulation of the openings with rapidly growing Douglas-firs which began to shade out oaks, madrones, and maples. Settlers introduced exotic plants and grazing by cattle, sheep and horses which significantly reduced native grasses. Approximately 12% of the lower elevation 1851 woodland and savanna/prairie communities remain."

"The choices we make today shape the future of the Willamette Basin."

"An important aspect of Conservation 2050 is the restoration of native vegetation, much of which takes place on agricultural lands."

— Excerpts from Willamette Basin Explorer

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