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Help preserve savanna

Hello West Linn residents:

You will soon be getting a letter in the mail from Neighbors for a Livable West Linn. It will have a red stamp on it that says “Help Make a Park in West Linn.” Please don’t throw this one away. About eight of your West Linn friends and neighbors have volunteered well over 120 hours at my dining room table this month in getting this letter ready for you. It is going to go out to every person who owns a business or home in our town and to all of my friends and family, too. That is just about 12,000 pieces of mail. This mailing is the biggest fundraiser we have ever done.

Please open this letter and make a tax-deductible donation or a pledge to help acquire the lower 6 acres of the beautiful White Oak Savanna. But before you get out your checkbook, how about a little background on who we are and what we are working on in West Linn?

Neighbors for a Livable West Linn (NLWL) is a small nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that has been working on two major projects in our community for the past 10 years. The White Oak Savanna preservation and restoration project is one of them. In the past 10 years, 14 of the savanna’s 20 acres have been preserved as a West Linn natural park and significant wildlife habitat because of the hard work and dedication of a lot of West Linn citizens. Metro, Oregon State Parks and West Linn have all donated matching funds to save the Savanna.

There are over 100 vertebrate species that are identified with this special place. There are more than 30 native plants that have re-emerged because of the 6,800 hours of volunteer time the community has worked there so far. The Savanna is located at the corner of Tannler and Blankenship in West Linn and the first 14 acres are already owned by the city as a park for all to enjoy.

The savanna is all about the kids. They will be the next generation of White Oak Savanna stewards. Young people have worked in groups — including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, West Linn High School classes, Willamette Primary School classes, Northwest Youth Corp crews, church groups, Portland State University students, Trillium Creek Camp Fire kids, SOLVE kids and neighborhood children. They have studied there with experts, too.

We are now working on acquiring the lower 6 acres of the savanna to add to the park. One hundred years ago there were 600,000 acres of savanna in the Willamette Valley. Now only about 2 percent remains. Metro just awarded another $500,000 grant for the preservation of these 6 acres of the White Oak Savanna. That is a very big deal. We have until mid-2015 to match it with $1 million. The Trust for Public Land has been our partner from the beginning and will be writing grants to help us reach our fundraising goal. But we have committed to raising one third of the total ourselves. That means we need your help.

Please see our website at nlwl.org and then make a tax-deductible donation to the White Oak Savanna using the form enclosed in your envelope. Please don’t throw it away; it’s from your neighbors.

Roberta Schwarz is co-founder of Neighbors for a Livable West Linn and a West Linn resident.




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