Luckiamute State Natural Area (LSNA) straddles the Benton/Polk County line along the Willamette River. At the boat-in campground at the northern end of LSNA is a spectacular view of the convergence of three rivers: the Luckiamute River, the Santiam River and the mighty Willamette River. Looking downstream from this vantage point, you can see the Santiam empty its waters into the Willamette. Then just a stone's throw downriver of this confluence is where the waters of the Luckiamute and Willamette Rivers are joined. According to Oregon State University (OSU) research, this intermingling of three of the area's most important rivers hosts the second-most diverse fish population in the Willamette Valley (the McKenzie-Willamette confluence tops the list). Formerly known as Luckiamute Landing, LSNA has grown from a collection of small parcels along the Willamette River to a 925-acre Natural Area managed as a single entity by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). LSNA is divided into two sections, the 615-acre North Unit, which includes a seasonal boat-in campground, and the smaller 310-acre South Unit.
(Above) Keep your eye on the Luckiamute River (flowing down the middle of the image), and then move the slider all the way to the right. This is the view in July 2010 before planting activities started. Now, slide the image all the way to the left to change the view to July 2018. See the increase in vegetation along the left side of the river? Over eight years, there has been a dramatic increase in riparian (streamside) habitat that will better provide food and shelter for LSNA's birds and wildlife. And as the trees and shrubs grow, their shade will help keep summer water temperatures cooler -- which will benefit steelhead, Chinook salmon and other aquatic life.
(Below) Here is an aerial photo of the same area featured in the slider, taken in February 2017. The natural process of the river overtopping its banks and flowing into its floodplain (the surrounding low-lying land) has many beneficial impacts, including improved wildlife habitat, floodwater storage, and groundwater recharge.
Phases I and II
Phase I of the LSNA Restoration Project began in 2011, and included mowing, cutting, strategic weed treatments to prepare the site for planting. In 2012, contracted revegetation crews planted over 122,000 native trees and shrubs on 80 acres of riparian (streamside) forest and wetland habitat. Phase II added 137 acres of riparian and wetland habitat in 2013 and 2014, expanding the total project area to a total of 217 acres. During both Phases, a total of 420,000 native trees and shrubs of 30 different species were planted in both the North and South Units of LSNA.
Phase III of the LSNA Restoration Project includes 117 additional acres of riparian and floodplain forest in the North Unit of LSNA. The LSNA's gallery forest represents one of the largest remaining tracts of this unique habitat type that is becoming increasingly rare in the Willamette Valley. The goal of Phase III has been to fill gaps in the canopy within the gallery forest, and help protect it from increasing weed pressures. Currently, project partners are stewarding and managing a total of 535 acres of riparian forest and wetland habitat.
From downtown Albany: Go over Hwy 20 westbound bridge and, immediately after the bridge, turn right onto Spring Hill Drive. Follow Spring Hill Drive. After about 7 miles, turn right onto Buena Vista Road. You will see State Park signs that say "South Luckiamute" about 1/3 mile from Spring Hill on the right, and "North Luckiamute" about 1.5 miles from Spring Hill, also on the right. Directions to find the North Unit Trailhead are included below.
From Corvallis: Go north on Hwy 99W about 9 miles to Camp Adair Rd (by the landfill, north of Adair Village). Turn right (east) onto Camp Adair Rd. and go 2 miles to T-intersection at Independence Hwy. Turn left (north) and go 1 mile, then turn right on Spring Hill Drive and go east for another mile to Buena Vista Rd where you will see State Park signs for "South Luckiamute" about 1/3 mile from Spring Hill on the right, then “North Luckiamute” about a mile further, also on the right. Then follow directions below find the North Unit Trailhead.