Collective Action: The Story of the Oak Accord

Collective Action: The Story of the Oak Accord

By Nicole Maness


“No [woman or] man made a greater mistake, than [s]he who did nothing because [s]he could only do a little.”   – 18th-century philosopher Edmund Burke

That quote has been a touchstone for me over the course of both my personal and professional life in conservation.

There are times when a task at hand seems overwhelming or intractable, when the scale of a problem seems insurmountable, or when a cause appears to be lost. But that is not the case when it comes to oak conservation in the Willamette Valley. Today, we face daunting statistics that less than 1-3% of historic oak woodland and savanna remains and what’s left continues to disappear at an alarming rate putting species, soil quality, and climate at increasing risk. However, a group of private landowners has taken it upon themselves to do more than “a little” to address this risk. They have engaged in collective action to protect what is left of oak habitat and to restore tens of thousands of acres.

In fact, with agriculture and residential development pressures growing at a seemingly exponential rate, and without local or state regulations to safeguard oak, we must rely heavily on private landowners to pick up the mantle of stewardship of this threatened habitat.

Today, I am very proud and excited to share a new video that tells the story of the Oak Accord – a first-of-its-kind voluntary conservation agreement by landowners to conserve oak habitat in Oregon. The video strives to capture the beauty and undeniably special nature of these oak landscapes while describing the urgency of the task at hand. It invites people to join this grassroots movement and to become part of something bigger than themselves. It conveys a message of hope – that with common purpose and commitment we can accomplish something great together. This effort gives me tremendous confidence in what’s possible.

So, we pause to celebrate this commitment, we acknowledge and applaud it. And then we roll up our sleeves and keep going. For there is work to be done.

Video produced by Sproutbox Media.
Funding partially provided by Temper of the Times Foundation

What can you do?


Easy! Spread the word. Share this video with your colleagues, neighbors, and friends. Let them know about the Oak Accord and encourage them to join. No property is too small. Every oak counts!

Easy! If you have oak habitat on your property or want to have oak habitat on your property, sign the Oak Accord. Or, make a donation to the Oak Accord to support its work. Every dollar counts!

Less easy, but so important. Get started on an oak conservation plan for your property. We can help.

Nicole is lead for Willamette Partnership’s work on habitat conservation. In this role, she focuses on building the science-based tools to support incentive programs for aquatic and terrestrial habitat and works with policy makers and stakeholders to implement innovative approaches to restoration throughout the Pacific Northwest. Prior to moving to Oregon, Nicole was the executive director of a think tank at the University of British Columbia that dealt with forest land-use policy in BC. She holds a BSc in Environmental Science from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. When not thinking about conservation, Nicole enjoys exploring the backcountry wilderness, playing the piano, and attaining new levels of patience and optimism as she restores her house in Corvallis.


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