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Elk Head WILDLIFE DIVISION
Oregon Conservation Strategy
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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

August 2008

Summer’s end signals the great fall bird migrations, a visual reminder of the interconnectedness of our landscapes. Visit the State Wildlife Action Plans website to see the nation’s 56 wildlife action plans—one for each state and territory. Taken as a whole, the plans present a national action agenda for conserving fish, wildlife and their habitats. State Wildlife Action Plans.

Contents

SAVING THE WHITE OAK SAVANNA

One of the last best white oak habitats in the Willamette Valley sits south of Eugene on Mt. Pisgah, and the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah are determined to save it. 

With most of the Valley’s native oak savanna habitat consumed by development and cultivation, the site in the Howard Buford Recreation Area is extremely valuable. Given sunlight and space, white oaks will thrive to shelter and feed a variety of wildlife and contribute to the health of the surrounding ecosystem. 

“Like native prairie, oak savanna is a habitat that represents a cultural relationship between people, place and wildlife; one that has developed over thousands of years,” said Jason Blazar, Friends of Buford Park. “I have a real resistance to the notion that people and nature are separate because, in fact, they are interdependent. The question is: are we vectors of disturbance or stewards of the land?”

As stewardship coordinator, Blazar is currently overseeing an oak savanna habitat restoration project which involves removing encroaching Douglas firs, enhancing understory vegetation and controlling invasive species.

“The restoration is being done in a high-use recreation area near the summit of Mt. Pisgah, and we hope the project will serve as an educational tool,” said Blazar. “There is a lot more we can do in the Valley for our native oak habitats—the more people understand about them, the more support there will be.”

The Oregon Conservation Strategy and regional and local conservation planning documents were consulted during the planning process. Funding for the project comes from the ODFW Bonneville Power Administration Wildlife Mitigation Program, ODFW State Wildlife Grants and the Forest Restoration Partnership.

The Howard Buford Recreation Area is in a Conservation Opportunity Area as defined in the Strategy and is home to many native plants, birds, mammals, and numerous reptiles and amphibians. For more information, visit Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah website.

THE WILLAMETTE: RESPECT, RECONNECT, RENEW

Riverfest Community Fair which will be held at Portland’s Waterfront Park on Sunday, Aug. 31 from noon to 5 p.m. invites Oregonians to learn first-hand about the river’s environment, clean-up the riverbank and have fun. The fair features music and food and a multitude of other activities.

Stop by the ODFW booth and learn about fish, wildlife, habitat restoration and the Oregon Conservation Strategy. Susan Barnes, ODFW nongame wildlife biologist and regional Strategy coordinator, plans to talk about the Strategy to interested fairgoers.

“I enjoy talking to folks about the Strategy. People really want to know what they can do to help and are interested in learning more about the wild critters that benefit from their actions. Once people understand the connection between healthy habitat and healthy fish and wildlife, they really look at things differently,” she said. “What’s great about the Strategy is that everyone has a role to play—whether it's providing backyard wildlife habitat or choosing an appropriate pet.”

Barnes also expects to answer questions about living with urban wildlife and invasive species—two issues of critical importance in the Portland area. For more information about Riverfest 08, visit the event website.

WILD WEEDS AND DRY WETLANDS

Marty St. Louis has been fighting invasive plants on the Summer Lake Wildlife Area for more than 20 years. And, although, he’d rather be doing something else, he’s become pretty good at it.

“Keeping our native habitat healthy is a year round project,” said St. Louis, manager of the wildlife area that serves as a crucial nesting and rest stop for migratory birds. “We go at it in a couple of ways—noxious weed control and habitat regeneration.”

This year, on the weed control front, wildlife area staff has taken an aggressive stance against a Eurasian invader, perennial pepperweed, searching out and chemically treating small infestations before they become established.

“If it takes hold, we stand to lose significant wet meadow habitat,” said St. Louis. “Not a good outcome for a wildlife area.”

The second level of habitat management involves a complex rotation of wetland restoration that includes drying out marshes, prescribed fire, mowing and other techniques.

“To keep open waters, we have to reset the successional clock,” said St. Louis. “As the invigorated native growth returns, the restored area is of tremendous benefit to strategy species like the black-necked stilt. This past spring, northern pintail and other migrant waterfowl use of recently treated areas was phenomenal. As vegetation communities evolve other key species such as colonial nesting water birds and secretive marsh birds will make extensive use of these enhanced habitats.”

To make it work, of course, there is always a project underway. Although most of the habitat improvement work is done by wildlife area staff, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. has been, and continues to be, a key partner delivering infrastructure upgrades that will allow staff effective and flexible habitat management well into the future.

Summer Lake Wildlife Area is 68 miles south of La Pine and 75 miles north of Lakeview. Its management plan incorporates Oregon Conservation Strategy priorities. For more information and a map of the area, visit ODFW’s website.

MOUNTAIN QUAIL COME HOME TO HARNEY COUNTY

Mountain Quail

Mountain Quail
- Photo by Greg Gillson-

The Trout Creek Mountains in southeast Oregon are testimony to what can happen when a group of people come together for the good of fish and wildlife. Although, geographically, it is far off Oregon’s beaten paths, the area is on the radar of a diverse group of conservationists who are intent on safeguarding its unique habitats and the species they support.

For a number of years the Bureau of Land Management, the Trout Creek Mountain Working Group, ODFW and others have worked to improve habitat in the area by reducing grazing impacts, improving riparian habitats and fencing appropriately.

Not only have the habitat improvements encouraged the revival of Lahontan cutthroat trout populations in local creeks, they have allowed biologists to consider reintroducing mountain quail.

“Mountain quail were once common in the area but were virtually extirpated,” said Dave Budeau, ODFW upland game bird coordinator. “Improvements in habitat conditions prompted ODFW and BLM biologists to reintroduce mountain quail.” 

This year, ODFW and partners released 111 birds, which were monitored after release for breeding and nesting success, survival and dispersal.

“All and all, the transplanted birds did very well,” said Budeau. “And, monitoring revealed some fascinating information about the species. Of the 17 nests located, 8 of them were incubated exclusively by males.”

Rod Klus, ODFW wildlife biologist in Hines, reports that based on this year’s results, plans are being made to continue quail releases for the next two years. The entire ODFW Malheur watershed staff in Hines and Ontario have been involved in conservation work in the Trout Creek Mountains at various times.

Mountain quail are the only quail native to the entire state of Oregon. For more information, visit the ODFW website.

The Trout Creek Mountains are in the North Basin and Range ecoregion in a Strategy Conservation Opportunity Area—an area of conservation importance. See the ecoregion section of the Strategy for more information (pdf).

KIDS AND CONSERVATION

Summer wouldn’t be summer without county and state fairs. To introduce the Conservation Strategy to children at these events, ODFW staff are focusing on some basic conservation concepts. At the Oregon State fair, a display of native turtles invites kids to learn more about native and non-native species. A wall-sized map of Oregon’s ecoregions and supporting literature highlight native and invasive species in each area.

At the 6th Annual Kid’s Day for Conservation on Sept. 20 in Corvallis, ODFW biologists will host a booth that introduces kids to the wonderful world of Oregon’s native frogs and grassland birds. For more information on this event, visit the OSU extension website.

ONE SMALL THING

Learn your Ecological Address. Just as a postal address connects you to a community, your

ecological address connects you to your environment. Mother Nature doesn’t use zip codes, she uses watersheds. This information and more is available on the SOLV website. Find information about your watershed on the Network of Watershed Councils website.

ABOUT THE OREGON CONSERVATION STRATEGY

The Oregon Conservation Strategy offers a blueprint for the long-term conservation of Oregon’s native fish and wildlife and their habitats through a non-regulatory, 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. See past issues of the Strategy newsletter on the ODFW website.

EDITOR

Meg Kenagy
Oregon Conservation Strategy Communications coordinator
(503) 947-6021
meg.b.kenagy@state.or.us

FOR PHOTOS OF THE PROJECTS

Contact Meg Kenagy

FOR STRATEGY INFORMATION

Contact Michael Pope

FOR A COPY OF THE STRATEGY

Contact Karen Buell at ODFW.

 


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