An EWEB-supported program provides firewood for people affected by the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire. The McKenzie Firewood program was developed by Pure Water Partners (PWP) in 2021.Find Out More
Despite an ice storm and a few windstorms in Eugene and the McKenzie Valley in the past few weeks, EWEB has so far fended off widespread weather-caused power outages – largely because of investments in year-round system maintenance and infrastructure improvements.Find Out More
EWEB makes electric mobility available to anyhone though e-bike rebates, car sharing and grants for local organizations with electric mobility projects.Find Out More
Energy Efficiency tips to help you reduce your energy usage for National Cut your Energy Costs DayFind Out More
In response to a call for aid this week, EWEB’s water division jumped into action to assist the town of Mapleton after a leak in their water system left about 260 homes without running water.Find Out More
At Alton Baker Park this week, Eugene 4J elementary students bid farewell to baby salmon they’d raised from eggs in their classrooms this fall. The activity was part of the Salmon Education Program funded by EWEB grants.Find Out More
EWEB is developing a plan to ensure that Eugene has a sufficient supply of reliable, affordable and clean electricity in the decades ahead, and is inviting the community to participate in the process.Find Out More
EWEB has joined 10 other Western utilities are to help ensure clean energy resources will be adequate to serve the growing demand in the region, while also managing costs and maintaining reliability for customers.Find Out More
On a chilly November day, third graders from Adams Elementary School in Eugene learned about the lifecycle of native salmon on a field trip to Lake Creek near Triangle Lake. The field trips take place all month as part of a program funded by EWEB grants. EWEB dedicates a portion of customer rates to inspiring kids to explore the wonders of science and learn about watershed health, water quality, and emergency preparedness.Find Out More
For EWEB, preparing for harsh winter storms is a year-round responsibility. While we can’t control the weather, we can make our electric infrastructure more resilient to withstand storms that bring snow, ice and wind to Eugene.Find Out More
Imagine if heavy snowfall and freezing rain hit Eugene this winter. Imagine damaged trees, road closures and widespread power outages. What would you do?Find Out More
EWEB works with watershed researchers, forest management agencies and local non-profits to identify threats to our water supply and public health, prioritize watershed restoration activities and help with long-term community recovery.Find Out More
When access to pad mount transformers, cable, and smart meter chips tightened, EWEB only had one choice – double down on its core values, provide safe and reliable electricity. Below are the stories from EWEB staff about how they have navigated the ups and downs of this new frontier.Find Out More
Local middle school students from around the area learned about the entire life cycle of salmon along the McKenzie River at Salmon Watch 2022, which was held at the EWEB spawning channel. The field trip took place during peak salmon spawning season, when fish that are at least two feet long are reaching the end of their journey from the ocean to their natal streams.Find Out More
EWEB’s electric safety trailer is an interactive tool for the public to learn how to react in a potentially dangerous situation.Find Out More
October 25, 2022
Hundreds of landowners in the McKenzie River valley are working with EWEB to prevent future fires and protect the river by replanting burned properties and removing fuels like dead trees and underbrush.
Jim Baker has lived on a wooded property in Vida since 1967. The 2020 Holiday Farm Fire burned through here destroying his home.
“Well, we lost the house and the cabin down below and the big white mobile home was 50% damaged,” said Jim Baker.
Baker sat in in the living room of his newly rebuilt house on this 60-acre property. He has seen fires here before — a cabin nearby burned down years ago. But the Holiday Farm Fire was different. Nearly 500 homes were burned in the wind-driven fire that moved quickly through the McKenzie River Valley on Labor Day.
Baker is part of Pure Water Partners (PWP), which helps landowners improve and restore their lands in the McKenzie River corridor. Baker described the work that PWP did on his land.
“Most of the property’s steep. Steep slopes or riparian. (We) did fuel reduction on some of that and some between the timber sale and the house. And they also cleaned up down below and on the bank below the house here. Did a great job,” Baker said.
EWEB’s Karl Morgenstern has been involved with Pure Water Partners since its inception in 2014. It was formed to encourage and enable private landowners to protect and restore their land, especially in riparian areas, in a way that benefits the environment. The program was crucial to EWEB’s swift response after the Holiday Farm Fire.
“We shifted from doing riparian health assessments to basically doing burn assessments and designing erosion control and replanting burned riparian areas. So, we were able to basically pivot very quickly.” Morgenstern said.
“The nexus for EWEB in fuels reduction is two- or three-fold. One we can treat the landscape in a way that brings native (plants) back, more fire-resistant, drought-tolerant species, that then allow us to be more resilient to future fires,” Morgenstern said. “It allows us to basically protect our infrastructure that’s up there by having larger scale treatments designed rather than individual properties. “
This helps protect the McKenzie River, which provides drinking water for about 200,000 EWEB customers.
Funding from EWEB customers, as well as state and federal grants, has made this work possible.
EWEB customers support these efforts to restore the watershed and keep drinking excellent quality water through the watershed recovery fee, which will raise about $12.3 million over 5 years and is scheduled to sunset in 2026. This allowed EWEB to invest an additional $4.25 million toward watershed recovery efforts in 2022.
EWEB also works with a variety of funding sources, including state and federal grants, to fund Pure Water Partners and protect the McKenzie River. In the two years since the fire, EWEB has leveraged about $15 million in grants to scale up efforts that benefit water quality and habitat.
Pure Water Partners is now working with over 250 landowners in the watershed and the program is moving towards a more contiguous, landscape-scale effort to reduce fuels and increase resiliency.
“And so now we’re moving towards more of designing landscape restoration, fuels reduction projects that cross property boundaries,” Morgenstern said. “So a property will have a piece of that larger design rather than us going tax lot by tax lot and working within the confines of the tax lot.”
Sue Zeni owns a tree farm off Deerhorn Road near Walterville. Her property was outside the Holiday Farm Fire’s burn zone, but she’s doing fuel reduction projects to make it more resilient in case another fire comes through here.
“So, I need to take out some of the trees so the biggest and the best trees stay. So, I needed to do the thinning anyway, but I was generating quite a bit of fuels with the branches,” Zeni said. “So the PWP allowed me not to leave all that as fire fodder. It could be chipped up and spread back on the woods which is perfect.”
Zeni purchased this property more than 20 years ago. Her goal is to make it a biodiverse, healthy forest that continues to the next generation.
“I love trees with a passion, so this is a project to keep me busy for the rest of my life,” Zeni said. “I guess I feel lucky I was able to apply for this program. It’s been really helpful and will pay off in the future."
The Pure Water Partners program is applying for its largest grant yet, over $10-million that would help fund landscape scale fuels reduction projects like Zeni’s for the next 5 years.
EWEB’s Strategic Program Manager Jeannine Parisi said fuels reduction can be expensive for individual homeowners.
“That’s why we are looking for additional federal funds to support this work, support property owners who live in higher fire risk areas and make the watershed more resilient to wildfire,” said Parisi. “There’s a lot of opportunity to scale up this work and it will take strong partnerships to help reduce the risk of destructive wildfires in our area.”
In the meantime, McKenzie valley property owners interested in having a property assessment are encouraged to reach out to Pure Water Partners.