august 10 2016 | jenny
A River Runs Through It
If you didn’t know it was there, you would walk right by.
With Jessie Russell, King Estate Garden Manager, leading the way, a visitor approaches the trees, bushes, blackberries and wildflowers that abound at the bottom of the hill in front of King Estate. The vegetation forms a ribbon that unfurls across the property, running to the southeast, until it jumps the highway and continues on into the town of Lorane and beyond to the Pacific Ocean.
Hidden in that vegetation is a tiny miracle – fresh spring water bubbling up through the ground, the gurgles barely audible over the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze and the cry of birds. But there is it, unmistakably: the modest headwaters of the Siuslaw River.
Follow the water 10 miles, into Lorane and then turning west onto Old Siuslaw Road, and you’ll come to the Siuslaw Falls. In the course of a few short miles, the trickle from King Estate’s property has joined with other creeks and streams to become a magnificent but gentle series of cascading falls, so beautiful in part because they are so unexpected.
Protecting the headwaters is but one reason King Estate has set aside some 150 acres in perpetuity as a natural habitat. Approximately 40 acres of mostly native oak woodlands, among the most endangered ecological communities in the Pacific Northwest, provide habitat for up to 200 species of native wildlife, including six – both plants and animals – that are listed on the federal “rare, threatened and endangered” list. For example, a stand of the endangered Kincaid’s lupine discovered on the property is the host plant of the Fender’s blue butterfly, thought to be extinct from 1937 until it was spotted in a remote area of Oregon in 1989.
The vineyard at King Estate is dry farmed, which means it uses no irrigation. Our vines draw on natural water sources from the ground and rainfall to grow and thrive. There’s a reason the land we acquired to the north, adjacent to the original King Estate, was called Springhill Ranch. It is dotted with natural springs that feed several ponds on the estate. These ponds are vital to wildlife and also serve a very practical purpose as a source of fire suppression, should that be necessary.
King Estate works closely with the Siuslaw Watershed Council to keep the water clean and pure for the health and enjoyment of the people and wildlife alike who rely on it. It’s an honor to be the stewards of this resource.