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Western Wood-Pewee video

Read about observations from local naturalists at

Mid-Valley Nature

These articles are too long or go beyond the scope of our quarterly newsletter.

Birds Striking Windows
Woodpecker Problems?

Weathering the outdoors in comfort
Conservationists as Naturalists
Photography for the Naturalist

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Our Goal

The mission of the Neighborhood Naturalist program is to teach the people of the Willamette Valley region of Oregon that exciting natural experiences are just outside their window. We also promote the philosophy of bioregionalism. Read more...

Who We Are
We are local naturalists, who may collaborate with other naturalists, writers, artists and scientists to promote the study of nature on a local scale. We use our quarterly newsletter called "Neighborhood Naturalist," other published media like books, audio CDs, DVDs and the content of this web site to accomplish this task. We also provide field trips and occasional lectures for free to the communities of the Willamette Valley (or if not free, just to cover expenses). The program was started and is now directed by Don Boucher as a means of networking with individuals both novice and professional, who wish to share their knowledge about nature within the community.

Test your knowledge with these quizzes

Willamette Valley Nature IQ quiz
(10 questions - easy to moderate difficulty)
Willamette Valley Trees 1
(10 questions - moderate difficulty)
Willamette Valley Mammals 1
(10 questions - moderate difficulty)
Willamette Valley Birds 1
(10 questions - easy)
Willamette Valley Birds 2
(10 questions - advanced)



"Thank you so much for (your help) leading the Mushroom Workshop in October! ... As a participant, I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, and find myself looking down on hikes more often than looking up! I'm sure I'm not the only student to put your teaching to good use."

Erin Popelka
Corvallis Environmental Center

"I just wanted to tell you how much fun I had watching your film. I didn't even expect so much info on beautiful flowers—after hearing individual birds, I was amazed how I could suddenly distinguish them with more ease when they were mixed together as meadow and forest "chatter." The extras section is full of such amazing footage. Last week I was trying to describe a coyote to a friend, and now I can show her your video."


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A Sense of Place

Many of us are fond of nature, but our understanding of nature is heavily influenced by TV, movies and other media. This is a misrepresentation of how nature really is. We live in a global consumer society with little or no connection to place and we regard nature as a collection of charismatic exotic species. We look outside our own communities for opportunities to visit nature. Of course, that means we need to travel...using airplanes, cars, trains and boats—costing lots of money and burning fossil fuels. Wouldn’t it be nice to easily visit a place that has as much natural diversity as you could possibly imagine? What if you could get there for free and go any time you wanted? What if, unlike visiting a distant place briefly as a tourist, you could visit this place daily? Wouldn’t it be great to learn natural yearly cycles and get to know the plants and animals intimately?

I’m not talking about getting to know nature in your own region or state. I’m referring to your own town, the nearby countryside and your own neighborhood. When you learn more about local habitats, you become a passionate advocate for sustainable development and preservation of open space. Nature is always present to you—it’s not a faraway abstraction—Nature is home. There are more species to learn in and around your own town than you could cover in one lifetime. Your own neighborhood has titanic natural struggles and unspeakable beauty that you can observe on any given day. Nature is never dull, even on the tiniest of scales.


The term bioregion is self descriptive, a place defined by the living systems within it. A synonym used by various public agencies in North America is "Ecoregion." I have used such resources as a guide in the map here but ultimately, bioregion is determined by the community. The forest and vegetation patterns are a primary influence in defining the boundaries of a bioregion but geophysical features like mountains and watersheds are a direct influence. The Willamette Valley is the area between the Coast Range and The Cascades and north of the Umpqua River watershed. Basically it's the lowland areas of Eugene north to the Columbia River. Some consider the area north of the Columbia River to the southern tip of Puget Sound as part of the same bioregion. That seems logical because it shares many species and geographic features but I feel that the Columbia River is a dramatic boundary.
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understand the boundaries of the bioregion that one lives in
become familiar with the unique ecology of the bioregion
eat locally grown or gathered foods where possible
using local materials where possible
cultivate plants that are native to the region and live in a sustainable way that is specifically tailored to the bioregion.
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It is a concept that is as old as humankind itself but has been made more popular in this country by writers such as Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry. I've found that while political issues and broader concepts of sustainability are being covered by many community groups, natural features are less understood and underappreciated. Nature field guides and nature covered in the media tend cover topics on a scale broader than the bioregion. Our goal is to illustrate the specific natural aspects of our bioregion to its inhabitants. This supports the broader goals of bioregionalism indirectly by augmenting people's sense of place and joy for the natural features around them. This is done by showcasing endemic species, subspecies, local populations and local habitats. It may also include local natural and cultural history. It’s important to know how we got to our current state of affairs.

Are we a conservation organization? No—we don't need to be.
The Neighborhood Naturalist program fills a gap which no local conservation organization can effectively carry out. We do research and educate Willamette Valley nature lovers about the specific plants and animals that live in our bioregion. There is a lack of understanding about which species are local and how our region is unique. That's our mission. Even though conservation is vitally important, there are many other organizations dedicated to this task. We support conservation organizations personally with time and money. The Neighborhood Naturalist program targets a disconnect with the land that effects most modern people, even conservationists. (read more about it)

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