The Fox Creek property is a high desert riparian nature preserve which extends about four miles upstream along Fox Creek from the Brownlee Reservoir of the Snake River in Baker County on the Eastern border of Oregon. Fox Creek is the site of an ongoing project in high desert riparian restoration focusing on the intentional use of beaver in stream restoration, and is a working farm and ranch. This Land Stewardship Plan has been created for the management of this 930 acres, which was placed in trust in 1989 by Wilfrid (Bill) Davis with funding from Kenneth R. Mahaffey. The Deed with Trust Conditions Subsequent (Deed) signed on November 8, 1989 specified that a “Land Stewardship Plan” (Plan) be formulated to ensure that the Fox Creek property be maintained and managed in accordance with the Deed (see Appendix A). This document is intended to fulfill that requirement. This Plan is not intended to alter any provision of the Deed. In the event of an inconsistency between the Deed and this Plan, the Deed shall control.
This Plan defines the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved and describes general goals and objectives as well as describing specific requirements, restrictions and stipulations of land management and use. Its intention is not to micro-manage day-to-day decisions, but rather to allow maximum possible latitude in the decision-making process within clear guidelines and principles. It is intended to furnish the on-site land steward (Resident Steward) with guidelines and restrictions while encouraging a sense of local on-site control. It is understood that both the Primary Steward (Seven Generations [7G] or its designee) and, especially, the Resident Steward will have firsthand, current information, experience and documentation in greater detail than is possible to include in this Plan.
This Plan is accompanied by a set of notebooks constituting a more comprehensive land use resource guide. These notebooks include expanded descriptions of the property with goals and objectives for each area, an array of background and technical information, and bibliographic references. The information and background materials in the notebooks are intended to provide the foundation for a broader more unified understanding of the land in various contexts. It is hoped that the entire document may be of value as an educational tool for this and other projects striving to restore riparian areas and implement sustainable agricultural techniques.
Roles and Responsibilities
Seven Generations, with the transfer of title from Agricultural and Community Trust (ACT), is the nonprofit land trust corporation holding legal title to Fox Creek. As the Primary Trustee, 7G is responsible for all legal and financial matters pertaining to the care of Fox Creek as is more fully provided under the Deed. This includes but is not limited to: dealing with all local, county, state and federal governmental agencies, being responsible for expenses relating to Fox Creek, making leases, speaking for the Fox Creek project, and designing the ongoing research work.
The Primary Trustee, 7G, has the authority to select a Primary Steward if it elects to, and the obligation to choose, or itself act as, a Resident Steward who shall occupy the property and use and manage the land in a manner consistent with the Deed and the Plan, overseen by the Primary Trustee/Steward.
ACT, a nonprofit land trust corporation, is henceforth the Revisionary Rights Holder (RRH), as specified in the Deed. ACT, as RRH, shall carry out periodic inspections of the property to confirm that the conditions of the Deed and this Plan are being satisfied. It is the Primary Trustee’s responsibility to provide the RRH with proof each year that the taxes and insurance have been paid. Scheduled inspections are to be carried out not less than yearly, with prior notification.
Goals and Objectives
The goals and objectives for land stewardship at Fox Creek are:
A. To demonstrate effective high desert riparian conservation and restoration with beaver as a primary strategy, and to devote the special attention necessary to protect the quality of the riparian zone in this challenging, steep, high desert environment.
B. To protect and enrich the land, its vegetative cover in the high desert, and the ecosystem; to maintain and improve water, air and soil quality; and to provide quality habitat for all wildlife.
C. To explore and demonstrate ecologically sound, site-specific, sustainable agricultural practices for both farming and ranch management.
D. To provide for the land to be responsibly cared for and managed by capable on-site Resident Steward(s)/manager(s).
E. To achieve financial self-sufficiency from the land to ensure long-term sustainability for the Resident Steward(s)/manager(s). Carpathian walnut stock are recommended as one possible source of revenue.
F. To provide an accommodating, safe and attractive environment for residents and visitors.
G. To facilitate the collaboration of interested volunteers by creating projects that stimulate public participation. To do outreach to farmers, ranchers and others demonstrating the benefit of employing beaver in the riparian zone. To encourage participation by educational institutions and organizations for field research, investigation and practical experience, such as training for apprentices and interns through participation in Fox Creek activities.
H. To protect the cultural heritage of the land, including recognizing and protecting Native American sites of significance and making them available for ceremonial purposes in coordination with the Resident Steward. The Primary Trustee shall resolve any conflicts regarding access.
I. To maintain harmonious relations, good communication and a sense of cooperation among the various parties involved, including land trust organizations, governmental agencies and other interested organizations and individuals.
Management Requirements, Restrictions and Stipulations
In addition to the goals and objectives above, there are a number of management requirements and restrictions that apply generally to all areas and others which apply more specifically to one of the four land management use zones that have been designated on the Fox Creek land: 1) Range, 2) Riparian, 3) Agricultural, and 4) Recreational (see map in Appendix B).
Beginning with the more generally applied requirements:
The primary criteria of all significant land management decisions shall be 1) the ongoing beaver demonstration and 2) the protection and preservation of the land, environment, native plants and animals. Established healthy conditions shall be maintained and less than healthy conditions improved and restored as conditions permit.
1. Any rare, endangered or threatened species on site shall be protected and tended; no practices that threaten these species are permitted. Conditions conducive to wildlife are to be maintained, especially in more remote areas of the property upstream and agricultural areas. Management shall enhance the potential for and restoration of native species. Management shall actively work to control non-native species, especially noxious weeds.
2. Any ecologically disruptive mining practices that would cause environmental damage to the land or water quality are prohibited. Any mining activities require the approval of the Primary Trustee.
3. No illegal activities are allowed on the property.
4. An ongoing inventory of major buildings and equipment, updated at least annually, of the property of the trust shall be maintained.
5. Vehicles shall be prohibited off the main canyon road above the house spring except for agricultural uses or with the explicit permission of the Resident Steward. Measures such as signs and/or fencing may be necessary in areas subject to incursions without permission.
6. A sign: “The Denzel Ferguson Desert Riparian Research Station, The Home Oregon Experimental Farm and The Fox Creek Experimental Watershed” will be maintained on the property.
7. Any business, recreational or residential uses of the property must be carried out in such a way that the results are aesthetic, that appropriate means are employed with minimum impact, and that the project is consistent with the Deed and all applicable government regulations.
Of use primarily in the Agricultural and Range Zones:
8. Sustainable ecological techniques are to be employed in agriculture. In the rangeland zone, open range grazing is prohibited but alternative grazing techniques, e.g. movable fences and strip grazing, are permitted. The ponds must be kept filled, clean and viable and irrigation systems kept usable for irrigation of the fields in the agricultural zone. In the riparian zone, all grazing is prohibited and access by cattle must be strictly limited.
9. The water rights must be kept up to date and preserved. All relevant local, county, state and federal government laws, regulations, codes and statutes shall be complied with.
10. Management of the land shall not contribute in any significant way to the erosion of existing soils. Wherever possible, activities that disturb the soil profile shall be conducted in ways that minimize soil loss and retain soil on the property. Appropriate steps shall be taken to prevent future erosion, and currently eroded areas will be restored to the extent feasible.
11. Management, including farming, shall use the least toxic effective techniques in all cases. When effective organic, biological and mechanical means are available, they will be utilized first.
In the critically important Riparian Zone:
12. Beaver are to be an integral element of the riparian restoration and preservation process, and they shall be managed in such a way as to encourage farmers and ranchers to have beavers in their bottomlands. The beaver demonstration will be managed, for example, by maintaining the suitable number of beaver to sustain the riparian zone without causing damage. Systematic study shall be done of the beaver and information thus gained made available to the public.
13. The large, old or environmentally strategic trees shall be protected from being cut down by the beaver, and, for instance, against being cut and used as firewood. Firewood will come from off the property unless trees have been planted and harvested specifically for that purpose. The old box elder, the water birch and the hackberry groves shall be preserved and protected.
14. Trees, such as cottonwoods and willows, will be planted to provide the beavers with adequate food.
This land has been well protected and preserved over the years, especially in comparison to nearby creeks and watersheds. It is only through continuing diligent effort and deliberate planning that the land can continue to be conserved and gradually be brought even closer to its original state, while at the same time providing a sustainable livelihood for its human residents.
The vision of Wilfrid Davis, ACT and Seven Generations is the preservation of this fragile natural environment for future generations, combined with its responsible, varied use. This Plan is meant to serve those who are devoted to carrying out that vision. As Bill said,
“ I hope [the Fox Creek Project] grows into a tree of intelligent planetary stewardship with the kind of government which is best because it governs least.” Wilfrid D. Davis, 1989
This document can be amended as needed with the approval of the boards of both Seven Generations and Agricultural and Community Trust.