Oak and prairie habitats in the Willamette Valley Ecoregion are among the most imperiled in the Pacific Northwest. Heavily impacted by urban and agricultural development, conifer encroachment, and invasive species, and facing climate change and further population growth, numerous conservation planning efforts have identified a pressing need for their protection and restoration. Eugene’s 2,000-acre Ridgeline Park System offers the opportunity to contribute to this effort, and the City has been hard at work restoring oak and prairie habitats using a variety of techniques since 2007. This presentation will outline the City’s ecological goals and planning process, and draw on several recent projects to highlight considerations, complexities, and benefits of this work.
- Ecological importance of and goals for oak and prairie restoration projects;
- Practical aspects of planning and implementing small to large-scale restoration projects, from scoping to implementation to project closure and long-term stewardship.
- Benefits and challenges of restoring and managing habitats in urban areas
Emily Steel is an Ecologist for the City’s Parks and Open Space Ecological Services Team. Emily has over 20 years of experience in ecological restoration, natural resources management, plant community monitoring, and avian use of restoration areas. Over the past decade, her work has focused on restoring oak savanna, oak woodland, and upland prairie habitats in the southern Willamette Valley. As a restoration ecologist, Emily develops science-based restoration plans for the City and partner organizations including The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and coordinates and implements oak and prairie restoration projects on natural areas in the City of Eugene’s 2000-acre Ridgeline Park System.