Threemile Team Continues Partnership to Protect Undisturbed Native Terrain in Columbia River Basin

Sometimes it is hard to imagine thousands of acres of land untouched by human use, where native plants grow in abundance and animal species frolic freely. However, one trip to the Boardman Conservation Area will satisfy that vision, where our Threemile team has been dedicated to protecting the rolling grasslands of the Columbia River Ecoregion since 2001.

Through an agreement between Threemile, The Nature Conservancy, Portland General Electric, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 23,000 acres were set aside to establish the Boardman Conservation Area (BCA), protecting one of the last undisturbed expanses of native shrub-steppe terrain in the Columbia River Basin. Included in the agreement, a 250-foot buffer zone was created to separate Threemile farming acres from the BCA.  

The Nature Conservancy manages the land, working in partnership with the Threemile team. Various conservation efforts over the years have protected species such as the Washington ground squirrel, ferruginous hawk, loggerhead shrike and the sage sparrow.

While some activities were limited due to COVID-19 in 2020 and early 2021, The Nature Conservancy monitored restoration activities, increased native perennial coverage and managed noxious weeds. Other notable activities and observations included:

  • 9,000 sagebrush plugs were planted.
  • 600+ ewes and lambs grazed on approximately 300 acres to reduce invasive annual grasses.
  • Scotch thistle and Russian knapweed (invasive weeds) were identified and managed.
  • Ferruginous hawks were spotted. 

As laid out in the agreement, Threemile provides funding to The Nature Conservancy for its management efforts at the BCA. In 2020, Threemile contributed more than $200,000 and provided in-kind donations such as tractor and fuel allowances.  

Greg Harris, Threemile’s Director of Farming and Agronomy, said that protecting the Boardman Conservation Area aligns well with the farm’s mission.

“Sustainability is front and center for everything we do at Threemile Canyon Farms,” Greg said. “As farmers, our goal is to improve the land for future generations, and that includes our dedication to protecting one of the last undisturbed terrains in the Columbia River Basin.”