Homer Campbell Memorial Trail
In 2006, ASC joined William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Friends of Willamette Valley Refuges, and Greenbelt Land Trust to create a boardwalk trail and observation blind in memory of life-long valley resident, scientist, ASC chapter leader, Chat editor, and legendary environmentalist – Homer J. Campbell. The wildlife refuge that he loved is 12 miles south of Corvallis and contains some of the last remaining unchanged Willamette Valley prairie, as well as several other habitat types representative of this area. Its location near four metropolitan areas makes it readily available to hundreds of thousands; it is a very popular site for birding, wildlife studies, and environmental education.
The approximately 1,700-foot boardwalk trail winds through deciduous riparian forest habitat in the Muddy Creek flood plain north of Cabell Marsh. It begins from a paved parking lot off Finley Refuge Road near the Muddy Creek Bridge and travels south through the forest to the 125-acre Cabell Marsh, which is outstanding waterfowl habitat. While most refuge trails are closed from November through March to protect wintering dusky Canada geese, the Homer Campbell Memorial trail is one of just four open year-round. It is also the first wheelchair accessible trail on the refuge.
The observation blind overlooking Cabell Marsh at the end of the boardwalk was completed in September of 2008.
Thanks to the wonderfully extra-generous donations of the Werner family (Ann and her mother Jane), a new extension to the boardwalk - finished in October 2009 - connects the Homer Campbell Memorial Trail to the 3 mile walking trail around Cabell Marsh. This connection is open from April 1 to Nov. 1 each year. To give over-wintering waterfowl true refuge, walking around the marsh is not allowed November thru March, but wildlife viewing from the observation blind is available all year long.
The skies were leaden and soggy on Saturday morning, November 17, 2007 but spirits were high among 45 hardy souls who gathered at Finley National Wildlife Refuge for the dedication of the Homer Campbell Memorial Trail. The boardwalk, approach ramp and parking area were completed in late October, barely ahead of the fall rains, and it was time to celebrate! Thanks to refuge staff, a large tent had been erected near the trailhead, and it kept most of us dry for most of the brief ceremony. Amy Schoener on the saw and bow and Nancy Leman on a portable keyboard played a few of Homer’s favorite tunes. Remarks were offered by Homer’s daughter Linda Campbell, refuge complex manager Doug Spencer, ASC president Chris Mathews, Friends of the Willamette Valley Refuge Complex treasurer Rick Brown, trail benefactor and ASC member Ann Werner, and Homer’s widow Meg Campbell. After refreshments, courtesy of Allann Brothers Coffee and Sheryl Brown, secretary and muffin-chef of the Friends group, and good conversation, we all walked the trail in the misty rain, marveling at its curving construction and at the beauty of the lichen-draped Oregon ash riparian area through which it passes.
The boardwalk is wheelchair accessible and available for use all year – in winter, a good place to keep your feet dry, see multitudes of waterfowl on Cabell Marsh, and – all year - to experience the soothing rhythms of nature!
- Chris Mathews and Linda Campbell
Summer 2018 Update
In 2018, a subtle but important change was
made in the bird blind at the end of the Homer Campbell
Trail Memorial Boardwalk at Finley National Wildlife
Refuge. This new plaque acknowledging sponsors
takes the place of the original one that left out a few
folks! ASC wanted to correct those omissions.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation gives
grants to non-profits who provide wheelchair-accessibility
to a variety of places. They are particularly keen
to help organizations who help folks get out into the
natural world. Another addition is the grateful acknowledgment
of several major donors, both within
and beyond our community. It is easy to forget that
non-profit organizations are made of individuals who
give what they can to causes they support. In the case
of ASC—the entire organization is run by volunteers.
Those who donated to the memorial funds set up at
ASC & Greenbelt Land Trust were from everywhere.
This boardwalk trail, known to people all over the
world, is a treasure made possible by the generosity
and cooperation of many.
"I love how the boardwalk invites us to enter the ash swale, slow down and walk quietly through the forest, listen for woodpeckers, touch the lichen, and sneak into the blind to watch ducks, eagles, herons, cormorants, and even white pelicans rest and rejuvenate in Cabell Marsh. It is a perfect place to give thanks for all those who have come before us, like Homer, who cared deeply for our natural world and worked to ensure that some of it is protected."
Jane Ellithorp Werner, generous donor to the Homer Campbell Boardwalk
and mother of ASC Life Member and past officer Ann Werner, passed away in
September of this year at the age of 92. Jane was a member of the
Greatest Generation who during WWII filled a 'man's role' as many
women did at that time, working for IBM in Washington DC. There she
met and later married a young Army lieutenant, Clem Werner, from Iowa.
Following the war they raised their three children in Davenport, Iowa.
A strong believer in education, Jane worked to improve public schools.
In the 1950's she proposed health education in the 4th grade, a
controversial topic at the time. Jane and Clem loved Oregon and
vacationed here for over 40 years. They retired to Sanibel Island, FL in 1983 and Jane was a
volunteer ranger at Ding Darling NWR for 25 years. Most of all, Jane
loved to be with her family and friends, and golf, bike, bird and
shell anywhere she visited.
An extraordinarily generous woman, Jane
made major contributions to organizations to protect the environment,
provide education, and to support women and girls. We are grateful for
her legacy here in Oregon through her support of the Audubon Society of
Swiss birdwatchers Pierre-Yves and Marie Moeschler.