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Local Landowner Selected as Oregon Cooperator of the Year

Toops Family – Oregon Cooperators of the Year

Molalla-area landowners Jim and Mary Toops were recognized by the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) as their statewide Cooperator of the Year in the less-than-50-acres category. The award recognizes individuals for their exemplary support of the conservation goal of the organization, to promote the conservation and wise use of Oregon’s natural resources.

Jim and Mary accepted their honor this week in Eugene at the OACD annual meeting and conference.

The Toops purchased their property along the Molalla River and Woodcock Creek in 2004, with a lofty vision for the fifteen acres of pasture that was then almost entirely dominated by blackberries and scotch broom. Their goal was to raise a few head of cattle and bring the property back to it’s natural beauty.

Along the way, Jim and Mary received assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District. These organizations assisted in riparian restoration, habitat development, rotational grazing, invasive weed control, fencing and mud management.

Follow-up visits to evaluate the riparian buffer plantings have revealed proof of the hard work and extra care this couple give to their projects. Almost all of the trees they planted survived, and wildlife habitat boxes — including those for birds, mason bees, and bats — were all in use.

“Whatever Jim and Mary set their mind to, they achieve,” remarked Jenne Reische, riparian planner for the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District. “They seem to have conservation in their blood and any ideas that we discuss get quickly implemented with enthusiasm and care for the land.”

Our planners have enjoyed working with these cooperators, and we are very proud their hard work was recognized by the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts for their caring stewardship of natural resources.

Our warm congratulations go to Jim and Mary Toops!

Board of Directors tour, February 28, 2012

Last Tuesday we brought our Board of Directors to two project sites, one on Milk Creek (a tributary to the Molalla River) and the other an area of mixed commercial and urban uses that drains to the Willamette River.

Milk Creek is eroding the banks at our project site, and fish habitat is impaired. Historically, splash dams were used on Milk Creek to transport logs downstream. This practice probably scoured the creek to bedrock many years ago, flushing gravel and woody material out of the system. Our goals at Milk Creek are to move the thalweg away from the eroding bank and add a substantial amount of dead and growing wood to the system. This will reduce bank erosion and restore vital habitat for salmonids.

The mixed use area is near the Prairie View development between Aurora and Wilsonville. This area used to be farmed, and now has some industrial properties, commercial nurseries, a golf course, and housing developments. If you picture a watershed as a bathtub, the housing development sits at the bathtub drain when excess water runs off land located uphill. The Clackamas County SWCD is collaborating with landowners to find solutions to erosion and runoff issues.