Oak Savanna Woodlands Restoration Project 2018-Present

On the west hillside was a dying stand of 200-year-old oak trees. The Friends initiated a partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Sutherlin FFA Chapter. The project began in 2018, when the students collected acorns and began growing trees at the school’s greenhouse. In 2020, the Friends and the students planted 25 acres with 400 seedlings. In September 2021, the students began Phase 2 by collecting acorns and growing trees. The remaining 25 acres were planted in January 2024. This restoration project is funded by the USFWS Partners for Fish & Wildlife, The Roundhouse Foundation, and Cascade Community Credit Union

For this project, the Friends spent four years clearing the hillside brush, revealing young oak and madrone trees, ferns, and wildflowers. 

Thank you to Big Wrench Media and The Ford Family Foundation for the production of this video.

The students shared their thoughts on the benefits of this hands-on education in the February 2021 issue of Ruralite:

Rough Popcornflower

The Friends are assisting the USFWS on a project to protect the rough popcornflower (Plagiobothrys hirtus), a federally-endangered plant species found exclusively in the northern region of Douglas County. As part of the recovery plan to downgrade the plant’s status from endangered to threatened, the east side of the pond received seeding in 2021. The Friends are assisting in removing non-native plants. Another small population can be found on the south side of Ford’s Pond, located away from the pond loop path. The annual herb blooms in May and June.


Western Pond Turtle

In 2023, a wetlands mitigation project recontoured two islands to improve nesting habitat and offer protection from land-based predators for the western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species. Turtles typically lay their eggs on dry land, sometimes a distance away from the water. The hatchlings will make their way to the emergent wetlands to find food and shelter. The Friends will install signs (upon completion of the path construction) to alert park users to avoid disturbing the native turtle nesting sites.

photo credit: Abraham Finlay

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Monarch Butterfly

In May 2023, the Friends planted showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) in support of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species. Monarch caterpillars feed almost exclusively on milkweed, while adult butterflies consume nectar from the flowers to fuel their fall migration. Over 200 plants were donated by the Elkton Community Education Center’s Native Plant Nursery thanks to funding from the U.S. Forest Service’s “Wings Across Americas” program for Western Monarch Conservation in Oregon. The plants will spread their seeds via wind disbursement. 


Involving Students in Park Improvement Projects

In 2023, Friends volunteer Joe Keady arranged for the Bureau of Land Management to donate 10 fire-damaged picnic tables. Over 20 CTE students from Oakland High School had the opportunity to learn and practice new woodworking skills while restoring the ADA tables for the Ford’s Pond Loop path.

Materials were purchased by a grant from The Roundhouse Foundation.

Caring for the Park

Our volunteers mow the paths, clear brush, pick up litter, and weed the landscaping. Your donations help with safety gear, tools, equipment rentals, fuel, and providing pet waste bags-3,000 bags per year!