The Oak Accord
How Oregon landowners are protecting threatened white oak habitat
In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where more than 97% of the white oak’s historic habitat has already disappeared, vineyard and forest landowners have signed on to the Oak Accord as a way to protect and restore more than 1,500 acres of the Willamette Valley’s fragile ecosystem.
NUMBER OF LANDOWNERS PROTECTING OREGON’S OAKS
Video produced by Sproutbox Media
Funding partially provided by Temper of the Times Foundation
Protecting Oregon’s Oak
THE OAK ACCORD
Led by Willamette Partnership, the Oak Accord is a voluntary conservation agreement by landowners in the Willamette Valley to protect and restore the native oak habitat on their property.
Stately oaks trees and grass prairies are a defining feature of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and important habitat for many wildlife species. The trees are excellent nesting sites for birds while the ecosystem surrounding native oaks provide a range of environmental benefits — from preventing soil erosion to filtrating water to providing forage for grazing animals.
Today less than 3% of historic oak habitat remains due to fire suppression, development, and conversion to agricultural land. Vineyards are commonly situated in oak habitat because grapes grow well in the soil. Currently, there are no legal protections for native oak habitat in Oregon.
WILLAMETTE VALLEY LANDOWNERS JOIN EFFORT
Because 98% of the Willamette Valley’s native oak woodlands and savanna currently exists on private land, landowners play a critical role in restoring oak habitat in the region.
The Oak Accord, a voluntary conservation agreement, was inspired by the vision of local landowners such as Willamette Valley vineyards who see the economic and environmental value of native oak habitat and want to play a role in preserving it. In exchange for signing the Oak Accord landowners receive a certificate recognizing their conservation commitment, guidance on restoration activities, quantified assessments of the results of their efforts, and marketing tools to help them communicate the conservation work they’re doing to customers, regulators, and colleagues.
The Oak Accord officially launched March 23, 2017, at Sokol Blosser Winery where the founding signatory members — many of which are Willamette Valley vineyards — publicly signed the voluntary conservation agreement.
Willamette Partnership visits every signatory’s property to assess their current level of quality and quantity of their native oak habitat. National eco-friendly wine labels are jumping on board: Salmon-Safe is integrating an oak conservation requirement into their farm certification standards, which are widely used in the wine industry, while LIVE is determining what role efforts to restore native oak habitat might play in meeting their requirements.
Left: Mimi Casteel of Bethel Heights Vineyard with her daughter, Nora, is a winegrower in the Willamette Valley and an early champion of the Oak Accord. Photo / Bethel Heights Vineyard
“When all of us are doing our part and working toward the common goal, there might actually be a way to change the story that’s written about oak. And the Willamette Valley landowners are going to be the authors of that story.” – Nicole Maness, “A Tree Grows in Oregon”
The people and groups who signed the Oak Accord are committed to protecting and restoring oak habitat on their properties. Collectively, their efforts will be key to restoring and sustaining a resilient network of oak habitat across the Willamette Valley, where more than 97% of historic native oak woodlands and savannas have been lost.
The Oak Accord was inspired by these local landowners’ vision that management of vineyards and of forestland takes place in harmony with healthy, sustainable oak habitat. The Accord creates a stewardship standard for existing land managers and owners and is also a way to introduce new landowners to the importance of oak woodland conservation.
What’s the commitment?
- Undertake an assessment of the current (baseline) level of oak habitat quality and quantity on your property;
- Avoid and minimize any future impacts to oak habitat;
- Mitigate for any impacts that cannot be avoided; and
- Undertake a periodic (every 5 years) assessment of oak habitat on your property.
One of the benefits of participating will be access to resources and support that will make meeting the terms straightforward and reasonable. The Oak Accord is a voluntary commitment to protect and restore your native oaks and you may withdraw at any time.
Information for Landowners Restoring and Managing Oregon White Oak Habitat
Prairie and Oak Restoration Resources
USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service – Financial Assistance Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s NRCS branch offers financial and technical assistance to help agricultural producers make and maintain conservation improvements on their land.
Mahonia Nursery is a wholesale and brokering nursery that has been specializing in growing native plants of the Pacific Northwest and selected ornamentals for over 25 years. We are a family-owned wholesale nursery offering quality plants, grown in a sustainable manner, at a competitive price. We also offer plant brokering services to help you organize, locate, purchase and deliver the plant material to your project.
Mahonia Nursery is strongly committed to sustainability. For us, sustainability includes contributing to Oregon’s natural heritage by rescuing native oak trees that are destined for destruction. Trees that are relocated to our nursery are carefully monitored for over a year before becoming available to others who share our passion for these majestic trees.
Adopt a Rescued Oak
Mahonia Nursery rescues native oak trees that are destined for destruction because of development projects or the trees’ interference with existing structures. Learn more about adopting a rescued oak from Mahonia Nursery.
Scholls Valley Native Nursery
Oregon’s first Salmon Safe Certified native plant nursery. We are a family owned and operated wholesale nursery specializing in locally-adapted native plants of the Northern Willamette Valley. We are located in Forest Grove, west of Portland, in Oregon, and maintain an office in Tigard, southwest of Portland.
Heritage Seedlings is a wholesale Oregon propagation nursery that specializes in liners of rare and unusual deciduous plants for garden centers and other wholesale nurseries. Specifically, they grow native plants and farm-grown wildflower seeds for habitat restoration in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. We currently offer source-identified seed of over 100 species of native Willamette Valley, Oregon prairie wildflowers (forbs), grasses, sedges, and rushes.
The Advisory Committee provides strategic direction and oversight of the Oak Accord. Committee members include signatories, experts in oak conservation, and others who can help grow this movement to restore and protect oak habitat. The Committee helps to develop an annual workplan for the Accord, share success stories, and access the resources needed for landowners to engage in oak restoration work. Members serve a voluntary two-year term.
Committee Members for 2018-2020
Joe Abraham, Willamette University
Barbara Boyer, Boyer Family Farms
Mimi Casteel, Hopewell Wine and Vineyard
Pat Dudley, Bethel Heights Vineyard
Jason Lett, The Eyrie Vineyards
Mark Krautmann, Heritage Seedlings
Morgan McLaughlin, Willamette Valley Wine Association
John Miller, Mahonia Vineyard and Nursery
Chad Naugle, Oregon Department of Corrections
Matt Pihl, Pihl Excavating
Kurt Wittman, NW Farm Credit Services
Learn about Oregon’s Conservation Strategy
The Oregon Conservation Strategy is an overarching state strategy for conserving fish and wildlife. It provides a shared set of priorities for addressing Oregon’s conservation needs. The Conservation Strategy brings together the best available scientific information and presents a menu of recommended voluntary actions and tools for all Oregonians to define their own conservation role. The goals of the Conservation Strategy are to maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations by maintaining and restoring functioning habitats, preventing declines of at-risk species, and reversing declines in these resources where possible.
Video by Yamhill Watershed Stewardship Fund
News & Publications
THANK YOU TO OUR MAJOR FUNDERS
We are excited to announce the partnership between Sustainable Northwest Wood and the Oak Accord. To combat the accelerated loss of oak habitat, SNW Wood is donating 10% of…
Watch the video about the Oak Accord, a voluntary grassroots initiative started by landowners to protect and restore what little oak remains in the Willamette Valley.
It was only a little over a year ago that locals of the Willamette Valley came together and launched the Oak Accord with pledges to protect and restore the…
This document is a companion document to the Prairie, Oaks and People: A Conservation Business Plan to Revitalize Prairie Oak Habitats of the Pacific Northwest, showcasing project profiles.
Prairie, Oaks and People: A Conservation Business Plan to Revitalize the Prairie-Oak Habitats of the Pacific Northwest
This conservation business plan aims to revitalize dwindling prairie and oak habitats in the Pacific Northwest in economically and socially beneficial ways.
In this blog post, Nicole Maness share how this new plan maps priorities for conservation investments and actions needed to stem the loss of oak and prairie habitats and…
Here’s a two-page handout that summarizes The Oak Accord, including why Oregon’s white oak habitat in the Willamette Valley is threatened, why it’s valuable, and the plan for protecting…
The voluntary agreement document for the Oak Accord is a coordinated approach to conservation of oak habitat in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
A rapid assessment measuring oak woodland and savanna habitat quality for improved conservation outcomes. Here are the user guide and calculator.
Get in touch about white oak habitat conservation.