When Trey and Tammie Hagen spotted the For Sale sign in front of the farm that would later become their home, something clicked. “We had to do it,” said Trey Hagen, relishing the memory of the moment they decided to purchase the scenic 238-acre property. After spending many years traveling throughout the US and abroad, buying this piece of land along Ferguson Creek in the Long Tom River Watershed near the small town of Monroe was a homecoming.
“I’ve always felt Ferguson Creek was really special,” said Hagen, who has family that lives close by. “When I was a kid, this creek was our entertainment. We would spend our afternoons fishing, building miniature dams, and finding the best swimming holes. Now my son Cormac will have that opportunity, too,” Hagen said.
The Ferguson Creek property was permanently protected in 2011 when the Hagens sold a conservation easement to the McKenzie River Trust (MRT), preserving 62 acres of vital habitat for fish and wildlife. The property contains diverse native forests and emergent wetlands. These habitats benefits declining species including greater sandhill crane, pileated woodpecker, north-western pond turtle, red-legged frog, and western brook lamprey, all considered species of concern.
But the Hagens are going even further, improving habitat on their property in partnership with the Long Tom Watershed Council. “This project is a great example of how the watershed council and land trust can offer services to meet landowner goals for their property,” said Dana Dedrick, Coordinator for the Watershed Council.
The Hagens’ property offers a glimpse of what homesteads looked like in the early settlement days of the Willamette Valley. Along with an intact, meandering stream, the property also contains hay fields. And a few years back, the Hagens founded Confluence Farms, a three acre organic blueberry farm.
“Farming and conservation have both been part of our plans for this property since we bought it,” said Trey Hagen. “Active farming and habitat conservation are sometimes posed as opposite sides of a spectrum of land use. Today, property owners like us who consider land management practices for the long haul see conservation and farming coexisting and proving beneficial to each other.”