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A Bid for the Forest

Wonderland Auction raises money for Oregon’s ecosystems
Wonderland Auction attendees howl for the environment
Wonderland Auction attendees howl for the environment

Every year, a local conservation group turns an otherwise staid meeting hall into a winter wonderland. It’s not so much the decorations — if there are any, aside from nicely draped tables, I’ve never noticed — but rather the spirit with which the 300 or so attendees show up ready to enjoy themselves and spend money to support Cascadia Wildlands and its work to preserve Oregon’s forests and ecosystems. 

Cascadia Wildlands’ “Wonderland Auction” takes place Dec. 12 at Lane Community College, and those attending can bid on everything from a rafting trip with the group’s executive director to spa gift certificates and jackets from Tactics.

More than 200 businesses donated to the event, according to auction organizer and Cascadia Wildlands’ operations and communications director Kaley CoslowSauer.

The group’s motto is “we like it wild,” and it’s not unusual for attendees to show up to the annual event in everything from a tux and evening wear to jeans and a flannel shirt, though CoslowSauer says it’s a “cocktail attire” sort of night. Cocktail attire aside, children are welcome; she tells EW that children under 12 get in free. 

CoslowSauer says the auction is the group’s biggest event of the year. Last year they raised a record $40,000 between the live and silent auctions and the “paddle raise,” with donations that go straight to the nonprofit. The paddle-raise money is tax deductible, CoslowSauer says, as are items donated to the auction to sell, and any money paid for gifts above their value are “most likely” tax deductible. 

Alyssa Lawless, director of sustainability for longtime event sponsor Mountain Rose Herbs, says that as “a mission-driven company,” Mountain Rose aims to support local environmental nonprofits, and Cascadia’s mission to protect “wildlife, water quality and our land is important to Mountain Rose because this is where our employees live and play.” For those who prefer nonalcoholic drinks, the event will have teas by Mountain Rose.

In addition to the holiday shopping at the live and silent auctions, those who head out to the event can sip local ciders, beers and wines from Ninkasi, Oakshire and Agrarian Ales, Opine Cellars and WildCraft Cider Works as they eat a Northwest “gourmet meal” prepared by LCC catering, CoslowSauer says. There will “funky jazz” music by The Requests, featuring members of Eugene’s own Eleven Eyes. 

CoslowSauer says that each year at the auction, Cascadia Wildlands announces a focus for the coming year, which this time will be climate change, safeguarding the Elliott State Forest, stopping liquefied natural gas pipelines and keeping Oregon’s water cool and clean for salmon and recreation.

The 13th annual Wonderland Auction is 6 to 10 pm, Dec. 12, at LCC’s Center for Meeting and Learning. Tickets can be purchased online until Dec. 7 at cascwild.org for $50 in advance; it’s $60 at the door. Tables for eight, which include two bottles of wine, can be reserved, and it’s also possible to volunteer a two-hour shift at the event in exchange for a ticket.