Natural Heritage Parks - An Overview
Imagine walking through a scenic oak savanna, with fine grasses blowing in the wind and widely spaced oak trees framing the landscape...
Imagine walking along the bank of a clear rushing river, with trees spreading overhead and shading the cool, quiet earth...
Imagine walking through the tall grasses of a prairie, with thousands of colorful wildflowers nodding their heads in the breeze and a meadowlark trilling in the distance...
Soon, this could be more than just your imagination... in Marion County's Natural Heritage Parks.
When Euro-American settlers first came to the Marion County area, they were greeted with sights like these. Oak savannas and prairies covered most of the Willamette Valley. Along the rivers, gallery forests shaded the waters and spread sometimes for miles back from the banks. In the prehistoric lake beds, rare peat bogs formed. And in the mountains, old growth forests towered over the land.
With its increased development and growing population, Marion County has lost many of the ecosystems that existed prior to European settlement. Within these ecosystems there were unique communities of plants and animals, many of which have become rare or are absent in today’s Marion County. The historical ecosystems also provided important environmental benefits, such as flood control, groundwater recharge, and soil stabilization. The loss of these ecosystems threatens not only the environmental quality of Marion County, but also its connection to a rich natural history.
In an effort to recreate some of this lost natural heritage, it is the long-term goal of Marion County to have each of its pre-Euro-American settlement ecosystems restored and represented in at least one county park. By restoring these ecosystems, the county can:
- Provide critical habitats for rare plants and animals.
- Reestablish important environmental processes.
- Provide visitors the opportunity for environmental education and appreciation of the County’s natural heritage.
This site is the home for Marion County's Natural Heritage Parks program. Here you can learn about how this program is being developed and how you can get involved.
Natural Heritage Parks sites
For more information on the Natural Heritage Parks Program, please contact:
Marion County Public Works
5155 Silverton Road NE
Salem, Oregon 97305