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Elk Head CONSERVATION
Native fish, wildlife and their habitat
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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

February 2015

CONTENTS

Protect the best and restore the rest
Wetlands for the world: celebrate International Wetlands Day with us!
Keep the wild in Oregon’s wildlife
The Oregon Nearshore Strategy revision
Clackamas County turtle survey turns up empty for western pond turtles
Our natural world
Habitat Conservation Stamp available

Click on images to enlarge

PROTECT THE BEST AND RESTORE THE REST

Protect the best and restore the rest: welcome to the Forest Service’s TRACS.

The Terrestrial Restoration and Conservation Strategy is an Oregon and Washington-wide conservation planning tool for Forest Service wildlife biologists, botanists and planners.

TRACS identifies the most important terrestrial species, habitats and watersheds by ecoregions that cover national forests in Oregon and Washington (Region 6).  It shows how the information can be used to prioritize restoration projects that accomplish multiple objectives simultaneously.

“We are lucky to have so many wildlife and plant species in Oregon and Washington that give us such great biodiversity,” said Josh Chapman, Regional Wildlife Biologist with the Pacific Northwest Region. “Some of these species and their habitats are rare, some have declined, and some have a high social and economic interest. With less funding and resources, TRACS can help us be more effective in reaching conservation and restoration goals.”

TRACS was developed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and identifies places on national forest system lands where animal, plant, habitat, and watershed priorities exist or overlap and can be conserved, restored, or enhanced through collaboration and partnerships. It gives policy makers and land managers for the U.S. Forest Service the tools they need to make conservation decisions and help build partnerships in the face of declining budgets: maps and databases; lists of priority species, habitats and watersheds; and analysis tools.

“TRACS is a great tool and a very positive step for us in working with our Forest Service partners. When priorities in the Oregon Conservation Strategy line up with priorities identified in TRACS, we can highlight that. In this time of decreased budgets, it’s a tool that can give more weight to proposed Forest Service projects and help get conservation work done on the ground,” said Jon Germond, ODFW Habitat Resources Program Manager.

This information tool kit and prioritization framework enables users to implement the TRACS vision of strategic conservation, restoration, and enhancement to safeguard high-quality habitat and improve less-healthy ecosystems.

 In other words, protect the best and restore the rest. It’s a Forest Service first of its kind.

 

WETLANDS FOR THE WORLD: CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WETLANDS DAY WITH US!

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Planting events at Metro area preserves happen every Saturday from January 31 to March 14.

Like to get your hands dirty and feel good about it? Then roll up your sleeves and join The Wetlands Conservancy for a planting party Saturdays from January 31 to March 14.

The Wetlands Conservancy is holding the planting events at their Metro area preserves to celebrate International Wetlands Day. Volunteers help plants native shrubs and trees that attract pollinators and provide forage for birds, and plant sedges and rushes that give amphibians a place to call for mates and lay eggs.

“These planting days are fun for the whole family,” said Courtney Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator and Urban Land Steward. “It’s so gratifying to be in a preserve in the middle of the city, working to restore habitat for our native wildlife species.”

During the month of February, The Wetlands Conservancy is co-hosting a worldwide wetlands photo contest for 15 to 24-year-olds with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, a group formed after the adoption of an international treaty to ensure global conservation and wise use of wetlands. The prize? A trip to a wetland of your choice anywhere in the world!

For more information or to sign up for a planting event, contact Wilson at courtneywilson@wetlandsconservancy.org

The Wetlands Conservancy, founded in 1981, is the only organization in Oregon dedicated to promoting community and private partnerships to permanently protect and conserve Oregon’s greatest wetlands – our most biologically rich and diverse lands.

 

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Tax refund donations to the Nongame Wildlife Fund have brought back the bald eagle from the brink of extinction. Nick Myatt photo.

KEEP THE WILD IN OREGON’S WILDLIFE

If you love all things wild, you can help support Oregon’s wildlife when you fill out your 2014 state tax return. Donate to the Nongame Wildlife Fund, Charitable Code 19, in the charitable check-off donation on your 2014 Oregon State tax return.

Funds support 88 percent of the state’s wildlife that are not hunted or fished such as native frogs, turtles, songbirds and bats.

“The donations we receive from the Nongame Wildlife Fund help us protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations,” said Andrea Hanson, Conservation Strategy Coordinator.

Donations have helped:

  • Bring back the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Western Snowy Plover from the brink of extinction
  • Fund wildlife habitat improvement projects on private and public lands
  • Purchase educational materials for science classes as part of the USFWS’ Bird by Bird pilot program in the Portland School District.
  • Conservation programs for sensitive species including the western pond turtle and Willamette Valley grassland birds

For more information on the Nongame Wildlife Fund, visit the ODFW website.

 

THE OREGON NEARSHORE STRATEGY REVISION

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A mixed school of black rockfish and blue rockfish, both Strategy Species, and giant plumed sea anemone at “the pinnacles” just southwest of Newport. Taylor Frierson photo.

The Oregon Nearshore Strategy is the marine component of Oregon’s state wildlife action plan. Together with the Oregon Conservation Strategy, these documents are the blueprint for conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is currently working closely with the public and technical advisors on a 10-year review and update of both strategies.

The Nearshore Strategy revision is an opportunity to review Oregon’s marine species and their habitats, and incorporate new information. 

For example, prior to mapping efforts begun in 2009, only about six percent of Oregon’s territorial sea had been mapped using high-resolution sonar technologies such as multibeam bathymetry/backscatter and sidescan sonar.

Now, about 53 percent of Oregon’s territorial sea has been surveyed with these advanced technologies. The results represent a dramatic improvement in our knowledge of and ability to map seafloor habitats in nearshore waters. Also, marine habitats can now be described with the Coastal Marine Ecological Classification System (CMECS) that was adopted in 2012 as the new national standard.

The potential effects of global climate change and what has been dubbed its evil twin, ocean acidification, were examined in supplements to the Nearshore Strategy in 2012. Those supplements will be fully incorporated in the nearshore revision along with any other recent information on these topics.

ODFW’s Marine Resources Program is also working closely with the agency’s Conservation Program to better integrate the Nearshore and Conservation Strategies. One aspect of this integration will be a combined Strategy Species list.

Marine birds, an important part of the nearshore ecology, and estuaries were not addressed in the Nearshore Strategy. However, the Oregon Conservation Strategy listed many marine birds as Strategy Species and designated estuaries as a Strategy Habitat. This update will allow for a more cohesive treatment of species and habitats.

The Nearshore Strategy revision is a public process with ODFW actively seeking the public’s input. Review the current document, supplements added in 2012, and provide comments.

A draft of the updated Nearshore Strategy will be posted to the ODFW website for public review in June 2015. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will be presented with a draft that incorporates public input at its September meeting.

For more information or to get involved, contact Greg Krutzikowsky @ greg.krutzikowsky@state.or.us
 

CLACKAMAS COUNTY TURTLE SURVEY TURNS UP EMPTY FOR WESTERN POND TURTLES

Citizen conservationists wanted for 2015 amphibian, turtle volunteer survey

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Volunteers are needed for the 2015 turtle survey. Oregon Zoo photo.

A two-year comprehensive turtle survey, the first of its kind in Clackamas County, has failed to document the imperiled western pond turtle during its first year of searching, according to a recent report.

A biologist-led team of volunteers searched 15 sites, returning to each site four times during the spring survey, which was funded in part by an Oregon Zoo Future for Wildlife grant. The sites, representing a spectrum of available turtle habitats, ranged from remnant natural wetlands to storm water ponds found behind big-box stores.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife conservation biologist Susan Barnes called the failure to spot a single individual at the 15 sites “moderately alarming.”

“It’s clear there are not a lot of turtles out there, but it will take more years of data to understand what’s happening with local western pond turtles and why,” said Barnes, who oversaw the survey. “We know that western pond turtles live in a few areas of Clackamas County that were not part of the 2014 survey.”

Pond turtle populations have declined throughout their West Coast range for reasons including destruction of their wetland nesting and rearing habitat, conflict with invasive species and a recently discovered shell disease. Western pond turtles are listed as sensitive in Oregon and endangered in Washington.

The survey documented two other turtle species in Clackamas County: the native western painted and the non-native red-eared slider. Red-eared sliders are an invasive species that commonly enter the environment after being “released” as unwanted pets. Once established in local waterways, they compete with native turtles for nesting areas, basking sites and food, and often carry parasites or disease that can wipe out native turtle populations.

The amphibian egg mass portion of the survey documented several healthy populations of native red-legged frogs, which require both wetlands and adjacent forests to survive.

“We had a great pool of volunteers last year, many of whom found out about the project through the Oregon Zoo,” said James Holley, who led the turtle and amphibian egg mass surveys. “Our amphibians and reptiles are in trouble, and getting into their habitat to look for them is a very tangible way for Oregonians to protect wildlife. When communities collect data through citizen science, they’re making an investment in the ecosystem.”

More than 40 volunteers, ranging from sixth graders to retirees, participated in the 2014 surveys.

A second round of volunteer turtle and amphibian surveys is scheduled for this winter and spring. Portland-area residents interested in surveying should be in good physical condition and can expect to devote about two hours on the day of their survey. To learn more, fill out this online form.

This ODFW project was made possible with funding from Oregon Wildlife’s Beulah Drake grant program, the Oregon Zoo Foundation’s Future for Wildlife program and support from Clean Water Services, North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District and Clackamas Water and Environment Services.

The zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. The zoo relies in part on donations through the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs.

 

OUR NATURAL WORLD

Leonardo da Vinci said learning never exhausts the mind.

Oregonians living in or around Portland, Bend and Medford have the chance this winter to learn more about our natural world through a lecture series presented by Oregon Wildlife.

Topics range from Greater Sage-Grouse history and recent research, to bird diversity in the suburbs, to the politics of wolves in Oregon. All presentations begin at 6:30 p.m. and admission is just $5 or $3 for Oregon Wildlife members.

The series runs January through March. Check the Oregon Wildlife website to see all the topics offered and register.

Oregon Wildlife supports projects that protect and restore Oregon’s wildlife and improve access to our outdoor resources.

 

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HABITAT CONSERVATION STAMP AVAILABLE

The 2015 Habitat Conservation Stamp and art prints are available and can be purchased online. This year’s stamp features the winning artwork of Tufted puffins by Don Meinders.

The stamp and art prints feature wildlife identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as species in need of help. Revenue from the sale of the stamps helps restore habitats essential to declining or at-risk species.

Past stamps featured paintings of western painted turtle, kit fox, and Western meadowlark.

 

ABOUT THE OREGON CONSERVATION STRATEGY
The Oregon Conservation Strategy provides a blueprint and action plan for the long-term conservation of Oregon’s native fish and wildlife and their habitats through a voluntary, statewide approach to conservation. It was developed by ODFW with the help of a diverse coalition of Oregonians including scientists, conservation groups, landowners, extension services, anglers, hunters, and representatives from agriculture, forestry and rangelands.

 

PAST ISSUES OF THE NEWSLETTER
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EDITOR
Meghan Dugan
Oregon Conservation Strategy Communications Coordinator
541-440-3353
meghan.c.dugan@state.or.us

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Note: The use of trade, firm or corporation names and links in this publication is for the information of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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