Greenbelt Land Trust adds to Luckiamute River holdings

Kings Valley landowners Dr. Cliff Hall and his wife, Gay, check out the view from along Maxfield Creek on Wednesday morning. The Greenbelt Land Trust has purchased a conservation easement on 73 acres, including the creek, at Luckiamute Meadows along the Luckiamute River in Kings Valley. (Amanda Cowan | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Kings Valley landowners Dr. Cliff Hall and his wife, Gay, check out the view from along Maxfield Creek on Wednesday morning. The Greenbelt Land Trust has purchased a conservation easement on 73 acres, including the creek, at Luckiamute Meadows along the Luckiamute River in Kings Valley. (Amanda Cowan | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

May 1, 2014, by Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette-Times 

Cliff Hall estimates that he and his wife, Gay, have planted somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 native trees and bushes on their Kings Valley property, gradually turning the heavily grazed farmland into a haven for all kinds of wildlife. “There’s a herd of elk that winter here,” he said. “We’ve counted as many as 70 elk in the pasture.”

Songbirds flit from tree to tree, seasonal ponds support migratory waterfowl, and the streams harbor coho salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. “We’ve also seen cougar, bobcat, fox, beaver, coyotes — we have lots of coyotes — eagles … we even had a fox in the house,” Gay Hall added.

To help ensure their habitat restoration efforts will continue to benefit wildlife, the couple recently sold a permanent easement on 73 acres of their property to the Greenbelt Land Trust. The Corvallis-based nonprofit will manage the parcel, known as Luckiamute Meadows, for conservation purposes in perpetuity.

The Halls will retain ownership, and the property will remain on the tax rolls.

Greenbelt purchased the easement with a $207,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which also provided $36,000 in stewardship funding. The money comes from the Bonneville Power Administration to offset the impact of hydroelectric dams that generate electricity for BPA.

Combined with earlier easements on adjoining properties owned by the Halls and Eric Schwartz, the latest agreement creates a conservation zone of 218 acres along the Luckiamute River, including the river’s confluence with Maxfield and Price creeks.

“Any confluence site is an important focal area for our conservation strategy,” said Jessica McDonald, Greenbelt’s development coordinator.

“That’s one of the conservation values of this property.”

It also serves as an outdoor classroom for the Kings Valley Charter School, just across the property line. Students regularly use the Halls’ property for class projects ranging from plant study to fish monitoring. A group of schoolkids pitched in recently on a major tree-planting project, and a one-mile trail serves as both a recreational walking path and a training route for the school cross-country team.

Jessica McDonald, center, development coordinator for the Greenbelt Land Trust, chats with Dr. Cliff Hall, left, and his wife, Gay, while touring the conservation land. (Amanda Cowan | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Jessica McDonald, center, development coordinator for the Greenbelt Land Trust, chats with Dr. Cliff Hall, left, and his wife, Gay, while touring the conservation land. (Amanda Cowan | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

“We have a very good relationship with the school and the kids who go there,” Gay Hall said. “It’s just cool to see the kids learning skills other than the three Rs.”

McDonald said Greenbelt will develop a long-range management plan for the new easement that takes advantage of the habitat restoration that the Halls have done already.

“A lot of it is going to be a continuation of what Cliff and Gay have already been doing on the property,” she said.

“It will be integrated management with the properties already under protection.”

If the management plan involves tree planting, Cliff Hall will probably be right in the thick of it. Recently retired after a long medical career with The Corvallis Clinic and Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, he has more time on his hands these days, and there are few things he’d rather do than put seedlings in the ground and watch them grow.

Why does he do it?

“The classic answer is I want to leave the world a little better than I found it,” he says.

“But the real reason I do it is because I love it — I have a passion for it. It makes me happy.”

(Original article can be found here.)