For generations, the Willamette Valley has been a special place for the people of Oregon. Home to 70 percent of the state's population and major agricultural and industrial enterprises, the valley provides healthy food and jobs. The Willamette Valley also provides, in more subtle ways, clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, habitat for fish and wildlife, and places for outdoor recreation.
But the future of conservation in the Willamette Valley is uncertain, challenged by such issues as an increasing human population and habitat loss and fragmentation, reduced water quality and quantity, invasive species, a changing climate and demands for nature-based recreation. To contribute to the future conservation of the valley, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiating a study of conservation opportunities throughout the Willamette Valley as part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. Beginning with three public meetings in late July, the Service wants to engage individuals, groups, partners and agencies in exploring both time-tested and innovative ways for the Service to contribute to a healthy Willamette Valley.
The Service has been working with valley residents on conservation issues for years through its four National Wildlife Refuges, which provide nature-based recreational opportunities for tens of thousands of visitors annually; through its Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, which supports the sustainability of working farms, ranches, and forests with important wildlife values; and through programs aimed to reduce agricultural crop damage caused by Canada geese wintering in the valley.
"We want to hear from the public how these programs and others could be modified or expanded to help maintain the Willamette Valley as a special place for generations to come," said Jim Houk, Team Leader for the Willamette Valley Conservation Study.
The following meetings are scheduled:
Portland, July 24: 3:30 pm. to 7:00 pm:
Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand Avenue, Rooms 370A and 370B
Salem, July 25: 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm:
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 3406 Cherry Avenue, Headquarters Commission Room
Eugene, July 26: 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm:
City of Eugene Public Works Building 2 conference room, 1820 Roosevelt Boulevard
"We look forward to engaging the public in this study of the Willamette Valley's future," Houk said. "Together we can forge a vision that will ensure the Valley continues to be a vibrant economic engine that also provides the quality-of-life values people and wildlife need."
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