Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge Center needs More Bikey Goodness!

The paper's got a neat story on what sounds like a terrific private-public partnership to create a education center at Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. With a bequest from Mark Gehlar, the Salem Audobon Society wants collaborate with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the first phase of the center.

There's a meeting tomorrow the 3rd at Pringle Community Hall to talk about it. One thing that deserves more attention is bicycling in and around the refuge!

Nature Center Concept at overlook site

Ankeny Hill Overlook with kiosk, parking lot, on rise
and close to same view - but lower down (via Streetview)

Site plan at overlook

Overlook near where Liberty enters bottom land
at intersection of Buena Vista, Liberty, Ankeny Hill
From the Press Release:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Salem Audubon Society (SAS), and Friends of the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex (FWVNWRC) are working together to realize a shared vision of a mid- valley education center located at Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge. Made possible by a generous $1.35 million donation from Mark Gehlar to Salem Audubon Society, the nature center would be a gateway to discovery, a place to connect with nature and a hub in the Greater Salem area for environmental education, science and interpretation.
Local Roots:
Mark's father, Max
Oregon Fruit Products
December 30th, 1911
The project is still in the early stages of planning and we want to hear from you! Join us for an open house style public meeting at Pringle Hall Community Center in Salem, Oregon on November 3rd from 6 pm – 8 pm. There will be a formal presentation at 6:30 pm to give an overview of the project and partnership but feel free to stop by whenever is convenient for you. We will have tables set up by topic area (Building, Partnership, Habitat Restoration, and Environmental Education and Interpretation) with people available to answer your questions. There will be comment boxes throughout the room to leave us your thoughts. Provide us feedback, talk one-on-one with project leads, and learn more about the project.

An Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared for the project that discusses the partnership, project, phased approach, timeline, alternatives and potential impacts. The EA is available on the websites listed below with hardcopies upon request. The public comment period will run for 45-days, starting October 17th.

Let us know what you think about the proposed Ankeny Hill Nature Center! If you cannot make the Open House, email comments to To learn more about the project, visit the USFWS Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge webpage: or the Salem Audubon Society webpage:
The Salem Bicycle Club has a novice ride at Ankeny
You might remember that the Salem Bicycle Club has a short introductory ride that loops around Ankeny. Despite some occasional zoomy drivers, it's flat, usually calm, and offers lots of birds and other wildlife. It's a great place to bike.

Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway at Ankeny
The Environmental Assessment also notes that "It is located on the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway between Salem and Albany and the Willamette Loop of the Willamette Valley Birding Trail."

And it notes that nearby
Eagle Marsh Kiosk, conveniently located south off Buena Vista Road, has a covered shelter next to the parking lot that provides visitors with a great place to view wintering waterfowl on the marsh. It is easily accessible by bicycle or vehicle.
Making high quality, even preferred, provision for bike transport would be consistent with its goal to
Serve as a resource for environmental education with school districts, youth organizations, colleges and universities, conservation organizations, and other groups and individuals interested in wildlife and the environment.
The current concept calls for bike parking stalls - but what about a fix-it station for the scenic bikway? And covered bike parking? Really make it a place where folks are encouraged to bike - either to unload bikes from the car and bike around the whole refuge, parking once only, or a destination to which to bike without a car at all. Biking should be the preferred transportation at the Refuge!

Wigrich at American Bottom opposite Sidney
is the site of the Rogue Farms (USGS 1914, 1917)
Outside the refuge, as a start for a bike ride to the Rogue outpost and hop yards, with a crossing at Buena Vista, there is great 19th and early 20th century history to consider.


Jim Scheppke said...

Amen! The national Audubon Society is very concerned about the impact of climate change on birds. Their website lists 314 threatened or endangered birds in the US — 50 in Oregon including several species found commonly at Ankeny, I believe. So this project should be designed with that in mind. How about a "net zero" facility? How about a plan to allow travel to the facility in something other than cars? This would be in keeping with the serious concerns that the Audubon Society has for the impact of climate change on birds.

Anonymous said...

Salem Reporter has a story on the opening, btw -