Willamette Valley Ecoregion

REGISTRATION CLOSED FOR 2017- The Willamette Valley Ecoregion course has found some new opportunities from growth and program improvement. Unfortunately, this means we need to take a year off of programming to focus on program development. We plan to offer another Willamette Valley Ecoregion Course in spring/summer of 2018. In the meantime, you have some options if you wish to stay involved with the program. As always, you can take another ecoregion course (such as the Oregon Coast, East Cascades, or Basin and Range) to meet your certification requirements in 2017. You can also stay invovled in Willamette Valley happenings by joining some one-day workshops that we will have throughout the year (see below for existing options and the Portland Metro Chapter Website). And finally, if you plan to take the 2018 Willamette Valley Ecoregion course and you would like to start logging hours towards your certification, let us know and we will adjust your account. Thank you for your patience. We appreciate your support as we work to impove the program for you and future participants.


Special thanks to all of our partner agencies that help make our Portland area activities possible:

Course Schedule - Portland Metro Area

Course Schedule - Mid-Willamette Valley

See class listing options posted in the Portland Metro link above.


More about the Willamette Valley Ecoregion

Bounded on the west by the Coast Range and on the east by the Cascade Mountains, this ecoregion encompasses 5,308 square miles and includes the Willamette Valley and adjacent foothills.

Twenty to 40 miles wide and 120 miles long, the valley is a long, level alluvial plain with scattered groups of low basalt hills. Elevations on the valley floor are about 400 feet at the southern end near Eugene, dropping gently to near sea-level at Portland. The climate is characterized by mild wet winters and warm dry summers. Fertile soil and abundant rainfall make the valley the most important agricultural region in the state.

Culturally, the Willamette Valley is a land of contrasts. Bustling urban areas are nestled within productive farmland. Traditional industries and high technology contribute to the vibrant economy. With Interstate 5 running its length, the Willamette Valley’s economy is shaped by the transportation system and the flow of goods. With nine of the ten largest cities in Oregon, the Willamette Valley is the most urban ecoregion in Oregon. It also is the fastest-growing ecoregion. Pressure on valley ecosystems from population growth, land-use conversion, and pollution is likely to increase.

The Willamette Valley ecoregion is both the fastest growing ecoregion in Oregon and the most densely populated, containing the states’ three largest urban centers (Portland, Salem, Eugene). The population projected for 2050 is approximately four million, nearly double today’s population. The ecoregion also provides about half of the state’s agricultural sales and includes six of the top 10 agricultural-producing counties. Also,16 of top 17 private sector employers (manufacturing, high technology, forest products, agriculture, and services) are located in this ecoregion.

Historical accounts indicate that prior to European settlement, much of the Willamette Valley was covered by native grasses and forbs. The Calapooia people regularly set fires to improve hunting and travel. The fires helped maintain the valley’s mosaic of grasslands, oak savannas, wet prairies and other open habitats. Since the 1850’s, much of the Willamette Valley ecoregion has been altered by development (agricultural or urban), particularly affecting oak woodlands, oak savanna, grassland, riverine, and wetland habitats. The Willamette River has been disconnected from its floodplain, and much of the historic habitats have been fragmented. About 96 percent of the Willamette Valley ecoregion is privately owned, presenting challenges to and opportunities for conservation management.

Oregon Conservation Strategy, 2006, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife