UO community invited to see Millrace plans on University Day

In conjunction with University Day, Campus Planning and Facilities Management is hosting an open house for a project envisioning enhancement and restoration of the campus portion of the Eugene Millrace.

The event will be May 18 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Millrace on the north side of Franklin Boulevard across the street from Onyx Bridge. During the open house, participants will learn more about the project and share feedback on the initial design.

In keeping with the service-oriented spirit of University Day, activities also will include a tree planting and service project to remove invasive plants and install native plants. Pizza and other refreshments will be provided.

The larger Millrace is an historic, artificial channel that has served various functions over the years. Initially created to power mills with water diverted from the Willamette River, it later became a recreation destination for the UO and Eugene community and was used for cooling the power plant. Currently, it provides a channel for university and city stormwater.

The redesign was initiated by the University of Oregon to improve the historic campus amenity, with a focus on habitat, visitor experience, water quality and aesthetics. Campus Planning and Facilities Management and consultants Biohabitats, KPFF and PLACE developed a conceptual design that provides a place for respite, learning, exploration and improved ecological function, all while providing stormwater outflow.

The plans propose grading along the edge of the Millpond to build wetland benches and improve riparian habitat. In addition, the designers are exploring the conversion of portions of the existing lawn area into a native prairie. Trails, overlooks and boardwalks are also being considered, and the outlet control structure will be replaced to better manage flows.

Overall, the proposed changes will increase native habitat, help improve ecological function and water quality, and provide a destination for the community to enjoy nature within an urban setting.

Send questions to Aaron Olsen, landscape planning associate, at aaolsen@uoregon.edu.