US Army Corps of Engineers
Portland District Website

Fern Ridge project data

Dam length 6,330 ft 1,929.3 m
Height 44 ft 13.4 m
Elevation (NGVD*) 379.5 ft 115.7 m
Lake length 4.5 mi 7.2 km
Area when full 9,000 ac 3,688.5 ha
*National Geodetic Vertical Datum

Contact us about Fern Ridge:
General: 541-684-4300
Recreation: 541-942-5631

Email us about Fern Ridge

Fern Ridge pamphlet

Fern Ridge Dam & Reservoir

Fern Ridge Dam and Lake

Fern Ridge Dam is at river mile 23.6 on the Long Tom River, a tributary of the Willamette River, about 12 miles west of Eugene, Ore. Fern Ridge is an earthfill structure with a gated concrete spillway and outlet works for regulating lake levels, which was completed in 1941 at a cost of $6 million. Since then, it has prevented more than $415 million in potential flood damages. The reservoir provides 110,000 acre-feet of usable flood control storage and controls runoff from a 275 square-mile drainage area.

Fern Ridge Dam was the first Willamette Valley dam constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its authorized purposes are flood risk management, water quality improvement, irrigation, fish and wildlife habitat and recreation.

Fern Ridge recreation

Boaters: Click here to view Fern Ridge's water surface elevation map.

Birding: The Fern Ridge area is an excellent location for birding. Oregon’s largest breeding colony of purple martins can be found at Fern Ridge. Thousands of acres of emergent marsh support summer breeding habitat for a variety of water-bird species. Read more about purple martins: Corps reservoirs benefit Willamette Valley Swallows.

Day-use parks: Fern Ridge Lake has three day-use park operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They have no associated fees. 

Kirk Park is located below Fern Ridge Dam off Clear Lake Road and gives access to the Long Tom River and ponds full of fish and wildlife. There are no group picnic areas or shelters available for reservations. Kirk Park has trails, picnic tables, paved roads, fire rings and vault toilets. Kirk Park is open dawn to dusk, mid-May to early September. Shore Lane Park is located at the end of Shore Lane Road on the northeast shore-line of Fern Ridge Lake.  This small, rustic park has a vault toilet and it is often used for launching paddle craft.  Shore Lane Park is open dawn to dusk, mid-May to early September. Jeans Park is located on Jeans Road on the west side of Fern Ridge Lake near Veneta. This wooded park has trails, vault toilets and limited parking. It is open year-round. For more information about the above parks, call the Willamette Valley Project Park Ranger Office at 541-942-5631.

Four day-use sites at Fern Ridge are operated by Lane County Parks: Orchard Point Park, Perkins Peninsula Park, Richardson Park and Zumwalt ParkCall Lane County Parks at 541-682-2000 or visit their website. Richardson Park also has a life jacket loaner station available.

Three day-use sites at Fern Ridge are privately operated. Eugene Yacht Club, Fern Ridge Shores (or call 541-935-2335) and Tri-Pass Ski Club (541-935-1495).


Getting around

Environmental stewardship at Fern Ridge Dam

The Fern Ridge Project encompasses more than 11,000 acres, ranging from open water to marsh, wet prairie and upland prairie habitats. More than 5,000 acres of the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area is managed cooperatively with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, the Corps works with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to support resident game and non-game fisheries within the Long Tom River Basin.

The Willamette Valley Environmental Stewardship program focuses on restoring degraded uplands, wetlands and streams on Corps lands. Recent efforts include replacing exotic and invasive plants with native trees and shrubs, and restoring hydrology and topography to support native plant communities and wildlife habitat. The upland prairies and extensive wetlands at Fern Ridge provide habitats for a variety of plants and animals. Fender’s blue butterfly and its host plant, Kinkaid’s lupine, occupy upland prairie habitat around the lake.

Oregon’s largest breeding colony of purple martins is at Fern Ridge, as well as significant populations of breeding western pond turtles. Thousands of acres of emergent marsh support the summer breeding habitat for a variety of water-bird species.

Native upland prairies, along with wet prairies, now cover much less than one percent of their former area, making them some of the rarest North American ecosystems. Remnants of these highly diverse, complex and poorly understood ecosystems provide necessary habitat for many rare species. More than 50 rare species can be found at Fern Ridge, including several species federally listed as threatened or endangered.

The Fern Ridge Lake Shoreline Management Plan was developed in 1988 and revised by Addendum in 1997. Also, view these related materials: Moorage Guidelines.