Goodpasture Island

From Lane Co Oregon

Goodpasture Island is located in eastern Eugene at longitude 44.09, latitude -123.11.

[edit] History

[edit] 1940s

Bounded on the west by the main channel of the Willamette River and on the east by Debrick Slough, Goodpasture Island in the 1940s was within the floodplain of the pre-flood-controlled Willamette River. I nfact, the entire island was flooded in January of 1943, and such floods problably occurred at least once a decade. Because of the flood hazard, there were only a few homes or other buildings on the entire island. Most of the island consisted either of farmland or relatively natural riparian vegetation. Debrick Slough occupied a portion of an old channel of the Willamette, but the remainder of the quarter-mile-wide former river channel was primarily riparian forest. Another triangle of remnant riparian forest was found on the northwest part of the island.

[edit] 1950s

During the 1950s much of the old river channel on the east side of the island was transformed by clearing the forest for gravel extraction, leaving behind a series of shallow ponds, now known as the Delta Ponds. Further gravel extraction occurred in the 1960s for the construction of the Delta Highway. Also in the 1960s, Valley River Center opened, and with a degree of protection from flooding provided by upstream dams, the island became an extension of urban Eugene, a transformation that has nearly come to completion. During the same era, Beltline Highway was constructed across the north end of Goodpasture Island with a cloverleaf intersection placed in the middle of the old river channel.

Despite the history of alteration and urbanization, nature has persisted in Delta Ponds, where the shallow former gravel pits provide habitat for a range of birds and aquatic animals. However, a dike prevents most flows of water from the main Willamette into the ponds, and consequently the water becomes stagnant at times. The disturbed ground adjacent to the ponds has mostly been colonized by Himalayan blackberry and Scotch broom, with patches of native riparian vegetation persisting here and there. Only in the ash-maple woods on the northwest side of Goodpasture Island along the Willamette River does a small patch of riparian forest persist in relatively intact condition, surrounded by new residential development. This small oasis of original riparian forest teams with spring wildflowers and songbirds, a reminder of the character of the Willamette River bottomlands in an earlier time.

[Eugene 1945-2000:Decisons That Made a Community, by Kathleen Holt, City Club of Eugene, Cheri Books, p 40-41.]

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