Talks will cover everything from Missoula Floods to Native American history. The next one is coming up Tuesday, June 20.

FILE - Geologist Scott Burns will be giving a lecture next Tuesday in Lake Oswego.When Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition Executive Director Siobhan Taylor describes a new lecture series the group introduced May 16, she uses a handy acronym: A.L.A.H.A.

It stands for "Act Like a Heritage Area," and that is the exact intent of the new program as the coalition continues to strive for a coveted designation as a National Heritage Area — the first of its kind on the West Coast. The lectures, which continue June 20 and will run periodically through the end of the year, are intended to share some of the many stories contained in an area that stretches 56 miles along the Willamette River.

"This is us 'acting like a heritage area,'" Taylor says. "One of the things a heritage area does is educate and inform a broader audience about its story. ... We've got some big irons in the fire. I think it will be very well-received by people."

Designated by Congress and overseen by the National Parks Service, National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are "places where historic, cultural and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes." While the Willamette Falls Heritage Area project began with a more narrow scope around the falls and immediate surrounding areas like West Linn and Oregon City, the coalition recently expanded the proposed NHA to include land as far south as Mission Bottom State Park near Salem and the Champoeg State Heritage Area southwest of the falls.

The May 16 lecture in Oregon City was delivered by Alice Norris, the former mayor of Oregon City who served as the editor of a heritage area feasibility study that will be submitted to the National Park Service for review — one of the central requirements for becoming a National Heritage Area.

The June 20 lecture, meanwhile, will look deep into the past.

"It's going to be the history of the Missoula Floods, in particular related to this region and how this area was carved out," Taylor says.

That talk will be given by Dr. Scott Burns, a geologist from Portland State University, at the Lake Theater & Café, 106 N. State St. in Lake Oswego.

"He is phenomenal," Taylor says. "I told him he is the original 'rock star.'"

FILE - David Lewis will talk about the Native history of the area in Newberg in September.On Sept. 21, former Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Cultural Department Manager and Tribal Historian David Lewis will speak at the Chehalem Cultural Center, 415 E. Sheridan St. in Newberg.

"He'll be talking about the whole story of Native American trade, which is another fascinating component of everything that took place with the falls as a focal point," Taylor says.

Finally, on Oct. 19, Jim Johnson of the Oregon Department of Agriculture will speak about the past and present of local agriculture at Philip Foster Farm, 29912 S.E. Eagle Creek Road in Eagle Creek. According to Taylor, the coalition is already lining up lectures for 2018 as well.

"Next year we'll be looking at stories of settlement, stories of missionaries, one on the history of the river itself," Taylor says.

To reserve a spot at upcoming lectures, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leave a message at 503-419-6340. Learn more about the coalition at

By Patrick Malee
Assistant Editor, West Linn Tidings
Pamplin Media Group
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