OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

WEB SITE EXPLORES PAST, FUTURE OF WILLAMETTE BASIN

11/15/2004

CORVALLIS - A wealth of information about the Willamette River basin is now available on the Web, featuring everything from video clips to research articles, expert listings, pioneer stories and sophisticated data collections - all with a goal of making good conservation decisions for the future.

This new web-based, user-friendly "library," at http://willametteexplorer.info, is called "Willamette Basin Explorer: Past, Present, Future." It was developed by the Willamette Basin Conservation Project as a key part of its two-year effort to provide Oregon residents and community leaders with more information to help make sound, informed land management decisions.

This initiative is a collaborative effort of the Institute for Natural Resources at Oregon State University, OSU Libraries, the University of Oregon, Willamette Restoration Initiative and Defenders of Wildlife. Funding has been provided by the Meyer Memorial Trust.

"The Willamette Basin is one of the most beautiful and productive regions of the country," said Hal Salwasser, dean of OSU's College of Forestry and a principal investigator on this project. "But its population is expected to double in the next 50 years, and we face challenges with water pollution, sensitive habitats, endangered species and urban development.

"Our goal here is to use research, communication and good decision-making to help create a healthy, sustainable environment."

The overall project has a number of activities, Salwasser said, including workshops and town-hall meetings. But creation of the new website that just went online is a primary goal.

The website provides a history of the Willamette basin, analysis of critical issues, mapping tools, colorful video clips, links to publications, data sets, and many more helpful resources. The site explores different development options and scenarios for the Willamette Basin, and provides data ranging from simple to complex, to help people better understand the implications of land management decisions.

A coordinated effort by thousands of individuals involved in land management and conservation activities will be necessary to protect the future health of the Willamette basin, experts say, which has the 13th largest river in the United States and drains an area the size of Maryland. There are also many incentive programs available to aid conservation, and the new website will help provide access to them.

The Willamette Basin Explorer was developed by OSU Libraries and builds on an intensive research effort by the Pacific Northwest Ecosystem Research Consortium, a joint project by the Environmental Protection Agency, OSU and the University of Oregon. In the future, OSU Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources plan to use this site as a model for providing information about natural resources to other areas in Oregon.

"We're trying to take science to the people," said Karyle Butcher, university librarian and one of the principal investigators on the project.