This Year in Oregon – Annual Report 2010 (PDF)
The Nature Conservancy
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Jana Rofsky didn’t expect adoption as part of the deal. But after chatting around the kitchen table at Gahr farm for two years, she felt like part of the family.
Those many conversations were with Ted and Harriet Gahr, owners of a successful bed-and-breakfast nestled in rolling hills west of McMinnville. Rofsky, land protection specialist for the Conservancy, was helping the conservation-minded couple protect habitats critical to numerous animal and plant species at risk throughout the Willamette Valley.
Scientists from The Nature Conservancy, agencies and universities had identified the 310-acre property’s native oak and prairie habitats as some of the best remaining in the Willamette Valley. Those habitats once dominated
the valley, but less than 2 percent remain today.
“We just needed to find the right solution and that takes time,” said Rofsky. “Ted and Harriet care so deeply about the land and the wildlife it supports. I knew that together, we could find a way to protect it.” That’s exactly what happened. The Conservancy purchased the site this year. It’s now part of Yamhill Oaks Preserve, the first protected areas for the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly in the northern Willamette Valley. In addition to oaks and prairie, the new addition also protects streams and restored wetlands. The Gahr’s gave a generous donation to support permanent stewardship of the preserve, while keeping a portion of the property for their home and business. The $1 million purchase was made possible by
funding from the Bonneville Power Administration.
Conservancy scientists will now develop a management plan for the addition and begin restoring potential Fender’s habitat and more. Strategies will include inventories, controlling invasives, thinning encroaching
trees and planting grasses and wildflowers, including Kincaid’s lupine and other butterfly-friendly species. Rofsky won’t be part of the restoration activities, but she’ll return. “My role in protecting this incredible property is over, but I’ll definitely be back at Ted and Harriet’s table again,” said Rofsky. “Every time I go there and soak it all in, the chirping birds and gurgling streams, it feels like home.”
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