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Nov-28-2007 05:10printcomments

Conservation Projects in Oregon and Mississippi Get Boost From Grant

The Nature Conservancy and Weyerhaeuser working together on the project.

Oregon's Willamette Valley
Oregon's Willamette Valley
Salem-News.com

(FEDERAL WAY, Wash.) - The Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Old Cove area in Mississippi are the focus of environmental conservation efforts in year two of a five-year, $1 million collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and the Weyerhaeuser Company.

The Conservancy considers Oregon's Willamette Valley to be one of eight critically endangered ecoregions in the United States. Less than 1.5 percent of the valley is protected and managed for biological diversity. Conservation efforts are hampered by inadequate information about environmentally sensitive areas and lack of user-friendly tools for evaluating and prioritizing conservation projects.

Weyerhaeuser is contributing $90,000 to support the Conservancy's ongoing efforts to address these gaps. Those efforts include completing an assessment of upland and riparian habitat throughout the valley, synthesizing the data in a comprehensive and easy-to-use database, identifying high-priority conservation sites, and making the results available to stakeholders. Included in the area to be assessed is Weyerhaeuser land with natural groves of Oregon white oak, a species of special interest to the Conservancy.

The Old Cove area of Webster County is located in a 12,000-acre forested landscape that includes the headwaters of three rivers, the ecologically unique Shelton Mountain and at least 12 rare or little-known invertebrate species. The 350-acre Old Cove area is inside a large working forest used to produce timber for lumber and other forest products.

The area's unusual ecological value prompted Weyerhaeuser, working with the Conservancy and Mississippi State University, to develop a special places management plan in 2004 for its land. The Conservancy is now building on that plan. Using an $80,000 grant from Weyerhaeuser, it will conduct additional biological inventories, assess the effects of forest management in adjacent areas and develop an area-wide conservation action plan.

The Nature Conservancy and Weyerhaeuser have cooperated on a number of projects beginning in 1976. In early 2007 the organizations accelerated their collaboration with a five-year program and $1 million in funding from Weyerhaeuser. The program's focus is on fostering conservation and sustainable management of biological diversity in managed forests. The first projects in this latest effort were studies of biodiversity within Blackland prairie areas of Arkansas and within "islands" of old growth in the Willapa Hills of Washington state.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at http://www.nature.org/.

Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world's largest forest products companies, was incorporated in 1900. In 2006, sales were $21.9 billion. It has offices or operations in 18 countries, with customers worldwide. Weyerhaeuser is principally engaged in the growing and harvesting of timber; the manufacture, distribution and sale of forest products; and real estate construction, development and related activities. Additional information about Weyerhaeuser's businesses, products and practices is available at http://www.weyerhaeuser.com/.




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