J2E Tree Farm to host biodiversity tour

Josée Rousseau (left) and David Ehlers discuss different bird species during a bird walk event at J2E Tree Farm on May 19, 2024.
Josée Rousseau (left) and David Ehlers discuss different bird species during a bird walk event at J2E Tree Farm on May 19, 2024.
Taylor Cockrell

The Luckiamute Watershed Council will showcase the J2E Tree Farm for the first time, a woodland restoration area in Philomath, in its River to Ridge Biodiversity Tour on June 8. 

A volunteer-based organization, the Luckiamute Watershed Council has been advocating for better water quality and habitat conditions since 2001. 

The group works to protect and enhance the area’s natural resources, according to their website. 

One of the watershed’s highlights, J2E Tree Farm, will be on display that Saturday. This small woodland area is nestled on the Luckiamute River, which is northwest of Corvallis, and occupies 360 acres of the 201,668-acre watershed. 

Participants of the River to Ridge Bioversity Tour will be able to view this area and learn about the ongoing restoration efforts to revitalize the land, from vibrant wet prairies and riparian areas to scenic pine flats and upland prairies.

Those interested should RSVP here and tickets are free. Upon arrival, people will be split into groups of 20, introductions will be made and then the full group will visit the wet prairie restoration site. 

Each group will view three different stations located throughout the tree farm: the upland prairie, riparian and pine flats and instream restoration areas. 

Project volunteers and local experts will talk about the restoration work happening at each station and help teach anyone who has questions. 

The “event will involve walking approximately two miles along mowed paths and gravel roads, as well as through some areas that may have bumpy, uneven terrain,” according to LWC’s website. They advise guests to dress appropriately and for the weather of the day, whatever it may be. 

A detailed schedule of the tour is provided on the registration website but the tour will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until around noon. 

Check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m., and after all activities, participants will be welcomed back for a picnic lunch. 

Suzanne Teller, the outreach coordinator, began the outreach program when she joined the council 10 years ago. “When I came on we started developing an outreach program, where it’s not just working with landowners who are doing the restoration projects, it’s inviting the public, getting more awareness about what’s going on.”

The council encourages participation from all people who live or work in the watershed. One of their biggest objectives is to promote learning, understanding and holistic collaboration within the ecosystem community. 

“I love coming out to J2E Tree Farm specifically because (David Ehlers, owner of J2E Tree Farm) has so many different habitat types, whether we do a bird walk or a butterfly moth walk, where participants can catch butterflies and for the first time on June 8, we’re doing the project tour,” Teller said.

Ehlers has owned J2E Tree Farm since 2000 and also serves as a board member for both the Luckiamute Watershed Council and the Benton Small Woodlands Association. 

Ehlers said he and his team have worked for years to restore the land to a fully healthy ecosystem and they have done so by replanting each season since 2022. By planting riparian, conifer, hardwoods and pine plats in the correct environments around the farm, they hope to restore the land and the endangered species living there. 

With their planting of specific trees, they try to provide natural corridors for butterflies, especially the “Taylors’ checkerspot butterfly, as there are only two populations in Oregon,” Ehlers said. He explains that they need to see good growth in the trees and nectar plants to promote those butterflies and caterpillars. 

Their biggest job at the tree farm is to prevent invasive species. Ehlers said, “70% of our work is controlling invasive species: blackberry, scotch broom, false broom, the list goes on and on.”

Because there are a variety of habitat types at the tree farm, Ehlers said he is excited to showcase everything. 

“As time goes on we just try to make things a little bit better every year,” Ehlers said. 

For more information on the tour, and on future events held at the watershed, visit the Luckiamute Watershed Council website.

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