Quamash Prairie 

 

What does Lane County Waste Management have to do with ensuring natural landscapes, including wetlands, remain in our environment? Well, a lot.  Lane County Waste Management is actively managing 86 acres of wetland mitigation at the 265 acre Quamash Prairie located 5 miles south of the Eugene/Springfield metro area. Mitigation reduces the impact of a land use changes by replacing valued natural landscapes, such as wetlands, somewhere else in the watershed. Wetlands are critical to our environment because they clean surface water, recharge ground water supplies, lessen the impacts of flooding, and provide wildlife habitat.

Lane County Waste Management acquired Quamash Prairie in 2002 for mitigation.  The site is located adjacent to approximately 150 acres of mature Oregon ash & Oregon white oak forest that encompasses Camas Swale that is also owned by Lane County Waste Management.  Historically, the majority of the Quamash Prairie site has been cleared and managed for agricultural use (grass seed production and hay).   A mitigation goal for existing wetland projects at Quamash Praire is to reestablish native wetlands on degraded farmed areas, and to functionally integrate these improvements with existing adjacent habitats.

Lane County Waste Management Operations employees are an invaluable resource in assisting with wetland development at Quamash Prairie. Using their unique skills with equipment large and small, these employees are  a key component in shaping the Quamash Prairie landscape.

It is envisioned that upon completion of current and future wetland mitigation developments at Quamash Prairie, the community landscape will be opened for public access, with trails and interpretative signage, allowing the site to continue to develop as a premiere outdoor classroom and research site in the southern Willamette Valley.

Quamash Prairie wetland mitigation site offers outreach and education opportunities to regional youth. Opportunities at the site are amplified due to its important location in the landscape and the presence of rare wetland habitats such as wetland prairie, vernal pools, and mature forested wetlands. Over the course of the last year, students from Springfield, Cottage Grove and Eugene have assisted with planting more than 150,000 native plants, construction and installation of nesting boxes and vertical snags for rehabilitated birds, salvaging of native camas bulbs from a future housing development site, collecting native seed, and removal of invasive plants.  This work assists Lane County with achieving mitigation permit conditions administered by State and Federal regulatory agencies, and results in a cost savings through reduced wetland development and maintenance costs. These youth collaborations allow students to learn teamwork and leadership skills, the concepts of wetland science and regulation, and skills that can be applied to future green jobs and sustainability practices related to resource management.