While working as a banding intern for the Klamath Bird Observatory in September 2012, I spent many weekends canoeing around Klamath Lake photographing birds. During this time of year the lake was full of many water bird species, including American White Pelicans. Photographing in a canoe allowed me to get very close to these incredible birds and capture their take-offs from the water.
Take-off While working as a banding intern for the Klamath Bird Observatory in September 2012, I spent many weekends canoeing around Klamath Lake photographing birds. During this time of year the lake was full of many water bird species, including American White Pelicans. Photographing in a canoe allowed me to get very close to these incredible birds and capture their take-offs from the water. © Mitch Walters/TNC Photo Contest 2019

Stories in Oregon

2019 Oregon Conservation Wins

From fisheries to forests, we worked across the state this year to make meaningful change

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Thanks to your support, we achieved significant conservation wins this year, from restoring tidal wetlands on the Coquille River to reducing the risk of wildfire in central and southern Oregon’s dry forests. We collaborated with partners, legislators and thought leaders across the state to shape and enact smart policies and began the critical planning needed to keep our coastal fisheries from collapsing due to climate change.

As we look forward to 2020 and beyond, we are strengthened by these successes. We have a tremendous amount of work to do over the next decade to address the climate crisis. But the science is clear, we have a plan and together with partnership, innovation and your support, everything is possible. 

We Reduced the Risk of Devastating Wildfire

Hotter, drier weather due to climate change and an abundance of overgrowth is fueling high-intensity wildfire in Oregon. We reintroduced fire in the form of carefully controlled burns to the dry forests of central and southern Oregon this year, working with agencies, private landowners and Tribal nations to reduce the risk of devastating wildfire and smoke impacts to our communities.

Controlled burn Oregon driptorch
Controlled burn Oregon Controlled burn Oregon driptorch © Mitch Maxson/TNC

We Returned Ancestral Lands to Indigenous Peoples

In 2019, the opportunity to do something special arose—twice. We transferred ancestral lands back to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde in the form of the Dunstan Homestead and Noble Oaks Preserves. Having cared for this land since time immemorial, both Tribes plan to restore and protect wildlife habitat and manage for conservation. 

In May, 170 participants representing 23 countries gathered in Sunriver, Oregon, to share, learn and challenge ideas about how conservationists can respectfully collaborate with Indigenous peoples and local communities. “Healing the land and healing the people go hand in hand,” said Oregon Trustees Judy BlueHorse Skelton and Charles Wilhoite in opening remarks. “In Oregon and around the world, there is much to be learned and gained by partnering with the original stewards of territory.” 

May 8, 2017- Sheridan, OR- The Nature Conservancy donor tour of Noble Oaks Preserve
Noble Oaks Preserve in Oregon May 8, 2017- Sheridan, OR- The Nature Conservancy donor tour of Noble Oaks Preserve © Tim Jewett

The fact that TNC has returned these lands to their original stewards is beyond words. This generosity allows us to step into our role as caretakers and ensure the existence of this habitat, and this place, for generations to come

Chairwoman of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde

We Added to Zumwalt Prairie Preserve

With your support and grants from the Climate Trust and Natural Resource Conservation Service, we were able to bring an additional 6,660 acres of grasslands under protection at Zumwalt Prairie Preserve this year, bringing the total to 55,000 acres. This new conservation easement will ensure that the native grasslands are never developed, sustainable grazing plans will be implemented and the carbon captured here will remain in the ground where it belongs. 

Zumwalt Prairie in Oregon's northeastern corner, is North America's largest remaining grassland of its type.
Zumwalt Prairie Preserve Zumwalt Prairie in Oregon's northeastern corner, is North America's largest remaining grassland of its type. © Rick McEwan

We Helped Save African Rhinos

When a researcher realized how much Sycan Marsh Preserve in southern Oregon has in common with the South African savanna, he knew that it’d be the perfect proving ground for his anti–rhino poaching technology. Saif Bhatti spent July at Sycan testing long-distance listening devices designed to catch rhino poachers in the act. The devices listen for sounds associated with poaching (think chainsaws and gunshots) and then relay that information to the nearest ranger station—much like a home security system. 

A mother and baby black rhino in Lewa Conservancy, Kenya.
Black Rhinos A mother and baby black rhino in Lewa Conservancy, Kenya. © David Clode

We Helped Salmon Grow Big Enough to Survive

In a juvenile salmon’s world—where everything and everyone wants to eat you—the bigger you are, the more likely you are to survive. After we restored wetlands and worked with partners to install a new tide gate at Winter Lake on the Coquille River last year,  fish monitoring of juvenile coho salmon revealed that fish reared here were both longer and heavier than fish in an adjacent river. Access to slower water with more food and resting spots gave them a head start and a much better chance of returning to the river to spawn.

Winter Lake Oregon
Winter Lake Oregon Winter Lake Oregon © Brady Holden

We Saw the Beauty in the Ugly

Hagfish are a super-resilient and ancient species that can adapt to changing ocean temperatures and pH levels and go two months without eating. While they are considered a culinary delight in Korea, the slime they produce can also be used to make clothing. Our coastal team conducted an analysis this year to inform future management of this unheralded but important fishery. 

Hagfish
Hagfish Hagfish © The New International Encyclopædia, v. 9, 1905

We're Planning for Sustainable Crab

Dungeness crab faces many challenges due to climate change—harmful algae blooms, ocean acidification and warmer waters. We’re working with fishers, researchers and fishery managers on a comprehensive management plan that will establish goals and best practices to help ensure that we don’t lose this treasured fishery. 

Fisherman in Sitka Alaska holding up a live Dungeness crab just taken out of a crab pot.
Dungeness Crab in ORegon Fisherman in Sitka Alaska holding up a live Dungeness crab just taken out of a crab pot. © ktmoffitt

We're Planting Trees and Growing Our Community

Thanks to a grant from The Boeing Company, we’re working together—with your help—to plant trees in and around Portland in a collective effort to make the Rose City a better place to live. We teamed up with local tree-planting organization Friends of Trees to spread the tree love and improve the health, happiness and climate resiliency of our community. 

Water in your tree OR
Water in your tree OR Water in your tree OR © Friends of Trees

We Connected Diverse Groups with Nature

Using inclusive strategies to connect communities of difference with nature, our 2019 AmeriCorps Community Engagement Coordinator, Nanda Ramos, had an outstanding year. Ramos attended community outreach events, coordinated volunteer work parties and engaged over 2,000 individuals and 375 volunteers. Highlights of her time with us included providing educational programming for The Boys & Girls Club and leading hikes with groups including The Blueprint Foundation, People of Color in the Outdoors and Reynolds Learning Academy. 

TNC Oregon's 2018-2019 AmeriCorp member Nanda Ramos plants trees at a Friends of Trees event.
AmeriCorp Members Plan Trees TNC Oregon's 2018-2019 AmeriCorp member Nanda Ramos plants trees at a Friends of Trees event. © Miwako Schlageter

We Helped Create Smart Conservation Policies 

Oregon Environmental Protection Act: We testified for passage of the OEPA this year to allow Oregon to preserve higher standards for the Clean Air Act, Water Pollution Control Act and Safe Drinking Water Act—no matter what happens at the federal level.

Nature for All Metro Ballot Measure: We worked with the Intertwine Alliance and Metro Regional Government  to craft and pass a ballot measure that will build community and climate resiliency by protecting nature around Portland and expanding safe, equitable access to trails, parks and rivers. And all at no additional cost to the taxpayer! Sounds like a win–win to us. And it is.

Offshore Drilling Ban in Oregon: We helped write, testify and lobby for SB 256 and cheered as it was signed into law, banning offshore oil gas and sulfur drilling that could harm the coast’s thriving tourism and fishing industries. 

Climate Action in Oregon: In what was truly a team effort, our Government Relations team worked tirelessly behind the scenes in support of an Oregon Climate Action bill and you wrote letters, sent postcards and showed up to make your voices heard. While we are disappointed that this critical cap-and-invest policy didn’t pass in 2019, we aren’t giving up—and neither should you. We will continue to support efforts to put a price on carbon in Oregon to reduce pollution and invest in our natural and working lands in 2020.