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    A Living Laboratory

    Courses that make use of Zena Forest have included: Archaeology Field Experience, Behavioral Ecology, Biogeography, Forest Ecology and Policy, From Seed to Table, Geography Information Systems, Politics of Environmental Ethics, Senior Seminar in Environmental Science, Senior Thesis Research

  • Masthead

    Zena Forest Observatory

    Offers students and faculty members a close look at the night skies free of light pollution.

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  • Masthead


    Among the university activities each fall at ZenaFest: apple picking and cider pressing, forest restoration and monitoring, prairie restoration and monitoring, sustainable forestry, Zena Forest Observatory research.

Willamette University at Zena

At a Glance

  • 305 acres of ecologically diverse and historically significant land
  • Part of the largest remaining contiguous block of forestland in the Eola Hills west of Salem
  • Habitats include oak and mixed species woodland, riparian areas, grassland areas, wetlands, freshwater aquatic areas and forest plantations

Our Mission and Goals

Zena is a unique and significant asset, and Willamette manages the property as an educational resource. Our management guidelines include:

  • Protecting, restoring, managing and enhancing the natural resources and ecosystem services of Zena, following an adaptive ecosystem management model in conjunction with a range of partners.
  • Implementing our educational mission and advancing the university's sustainability goals.

A Brief History

In 2008, Willamette University purchased this land from the Trust for Public Lands. As part of this purchase, Willamette University entered into a conservation easement which protects the property from development into other land uses (such as viticulture), promotes conservation efforts and supports economically viable sustainable forestry practices.

Prior to acquisition by Willamette University, this property was managed under German scientific forestry principles, including elements of uneven-age management and selective cutting. During this 20 year time span, the current Willamette University property was managed as part of the entirety of Zena Forest, approximately 1,640 acres total.

Read the full history