Summit Oak Demo

A Demonstration to Benefit Prairie, Savanna and Woodland Habitats

In 2008, Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah initiated a project to benefit rare native oak savanna and prairie habitat near the summit trail at Buford Park. For details download our Oregon White Oak Pilot Project brochure.

This project aims to protect and enhance oak habitat for future generations to enjoy while improving habitat for native plants and wildlife that depend on these habitats. Examples include:

  • Western bluebird,
  • white-breasted nuthatch,
  • Wayside aster (listed as threatened),
  • Oregon iris, monarch butterfly,
  • western gray squirrel, and
  • western meadowlark, Oregon’s state bird.

Restoration Methods

Since Euro-American settlement, fire suppression has changed the Willamette Valley vegetation. Consequently, oak habitats have become more rare as conifers encroach, overtop, shade out and eventually kill the oaks. This has been happening at Buford Park (Mt. Pisgah). To enhance oak habitat, a variety of restoration methods were used in this project. These included:

  • thinning young Douglas firs that would otherwise shade out and kill the oaks;
  • increasing acorn production (an important wildlife food) by thinning dense young oak stands to stimulate canopy growth;
  • controlling invasive weeds and planting a diverse mix of native shrubs, grasses and wildflowers.

By removing firs, the project also reduced the potential for a catastrophic wildfire that could kill mature oaks and fir, and helps prepare the 60-acre demonstration site for a future prescribed fire to maintain the grassland and savanna habitat. The demonstration project provides an opportunity for park managers and park users to evaluate various habitat enhancement methods and increase awareness and dialog about oak savanna conservation elsewhere on the park.

Technical Advice

Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah’s Stewardship Technical Advisory Committee, comprised of ecologists and other experts, developed the management prescriptions for the project, which Lane County Parks Division approved. Our staff and volunteers have led tours, posted educational signs, and distributed brochures to park visitors and community members to educate about the importance of oak habitats.  About 9 out of 10 hikers commented positively about the improved views and habitat. In response to comments from hikers, the project was modified to retain additional trees for shade along the Summit Trail.

Funding and Endorsements

Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah appreciates the funding and project support provided from Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Bonneville Power Administration and Forest Restoration Partnership.

The following organizations have endorsed the project:

  • Mount Pisgah Arboretum,
  • Native Plant Society of Oregon (Emerald Chapter),
  • Oregon Wild,
  • Cascadia Wildlands Project,
  • Lost Valley Education Center, and
  • Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.
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