Celebrating Oregon's History of Conservation: the 1980s

Expanding our goals and protecting broader landscapes.

Nature Stories

Hear former trustee Tom McAllister describe Sycan and what nature means to him.

Tom McAllister has led countless Nature Conservancy field trips to Sycan Marsh and other special places. Hear Tom describe Sycan and what nature means to him.

The 1980s started with a quantum leap — the purchase of our Sycan Marsh Preserve. At nearly 35 square miles, it was 30 times bigger than anything we’d done before.

Sycan Marsh is vast and full of life, where sandhill cranes return every year to nest and breed, as they have forever. Our preserve — now 47 total square miles — has become a major center for research and restoration efforts across an entire watershed.

Our first statewide conservation campaign, the Critical Areas Campaign, kicked off during this decade, too, when we added new preserves including Clear Lake Ridge, Agate Desert and Eight Dollar Mountain.

The campaign focused on protecting places with rare species, like Borax Lake in the Alvord Desert, home to a small fish adapted to live in hot water there and nowhere else on Earth.

One of our board chairs from the 1980s saw many of these places as a youngster with a passion for the outdoors. As a high school kid serving in a forest service lookout on remote Hagar Mountain, he looked out over Sycan Marsh to the south.

I doubt any Oregonian knows more stories about Oregon’s natural history than Tom McAllister. No one has led more hikes and campouts for the Conservancy over the years. And he’s still at it. His passion for saving the best of Oregon really comes through in conversation.

Let’s listen to a few words from Tom.

Our successes in the 1980s at Sycan Marsh and other new preserves — like Willow Creek in West Eugene — built our confidence to work with partners on a bigger stage and grander scale.

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