The Oregon Seal Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife  
 » ODFW Home     » Conservation   » News
About Us Fishing Hunting Viewing License/Regs Conservation Living With Wildlife Education
Native fish, wildlife and their habitat
On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

Special Edition: The 2016 Oregon Conservation Strategy

December, 2016


The 2016 Oregon Conservation Strategy
Completely revised: COAs
Oregon Nearshore Strategy
Compass: Create and share maps
Thank you, partners

Click on images to enlarge

Oregon Conservation Strategy


The updated 2016 Oregon Conservation Strategy (Strategy) was officially approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late August. The Strategy is the state’s State Wildlife Action Plan and is part of a nationwide framework for proactive, voluntary, partnership-based fish and wildlife conservation.

All sections of the Strategy were reviewed and revised with the best available science, tools, and resources. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) worked with more than 200 external technical experts and a diverse Stakeholder Advisory Committee to ensure the Strategy was not an ODFW plan, but a plan for all Oregon partners.

The Strategy is an overarching plan to conserve Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats. It provides a shared set of priorities for addressing Oregon’s conservation needs. The Strategy combines the best available science and presents a menu of recommended voluntary actions and tools for all Oregonians to define their own conservation role.

Strategy goals:

  • Maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations by maintaining and restoring functioning habitats.
  • Prevent decline of at-risk species.
  • Reverse downturns in these resources where possible.
Indigo Fire 2015
Key Conservation Issues include Disruption of Disturbance Regimes. Photo courtesy USFS

Briefly, the Strategy:

  • Identifies priority conservation issues and proposes voluntary conservation actions.
  • Increases effectiveness and success of conservation efforts statewide by improving coordination between partners.
  • Helps focus investments.
  • Is an information source for landowners, land managers, educators, and partners.
  • Provides opportunities for all Oregonians to find a role in conservation.

The Strategy outlines conservation priorities at different scales:

  • Key Conservation Issues (KCIs): 7 statewide conservation issues or threats that affect species and habitats over large landscapes.
  • Ecoregions: Delineated areas of Oregon with similar climate and vegetation. Conservation issues and priorities, limiting factors, and recommended actions are outlined for 9 ecoregions.
  • Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs): 206 priority locations across Oregon where conservation efforts provide the most benefit to the greatest number of fish and wildlife species of conservation need.
  • Strategy Habitats: 11 native habitats of conservation concern that are essential to many Strategy Species.
  • Strategy Species: 295 species of greatest conservation need, including amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, invertebrates, and plants and algae. Strategy Species have small or declining populations, or are otherwise at-risk.
  • Monitoring: Monitoring is key to determining the status of Strategy Species and Strategy Habitats, and evaluating effectiveness of conservation actions over time.
  • Conservation Toolbox: A place where Oregonians can define their own conservation role through recommendations and information found here.


The new Strategy at  is completely web-enabled, interactive and user-friendly. Elements of the plan can be found quickly, and ODFW’s Compass interactive mapping platform lets you create customized and easily shared maps. 

Benefits to the online include:

  • Functionality – the online format makes it much easier to use. No more wading through a thick paper document.
  • Inclusive – now anyone with a tablet, smart phone or computer can access the Strategy and find their own conservation role, helping us reach more Oregonians.
  • Integration – the Strategy is better integrated with its marine component, the Nearshore Strategy.
  • Connectivity – each section is connected and users easily flow between sections.
  • Search – users can search for a particular item and be taken directly to the page and/or related content. For example, a search for American Marten brings up the marten’s profile page and COAs, KCIs, and habitats that relate to the species.
  • Partner connections – the website includes links to partner agencies and organizations and their projects to help users step down and connect to on-going, localized efforts.
  • Living document – the Strategy online is easily updated when new tools and technology are developed and new data is made available.  
  • Compass – with ODFW’s online mapping platform, users can create and share their own maps and generate reports of Strategy components in their project area.
  • Promotes conservation – partner projects and success stories along with photos and videos can be shared for all users to see. Social media users can tweet and post links taking readers directly to the Strategy and into the heart of Oregon’s conservation needs.


Lower Rogue River and Estuary
COA 49, Lower Rogue River and estuary. Photo courtesy Curtis Edwards
South Fork John Day
COA 171, South Fork John Day River. Photo courtesy Keith Kohl
Killer Whale Southern Resident
Killer Whales were added to the ONS as they are now known to use Oregon’s Nearshore waters during winter. Photo courtesy NOAA Fisheries.
Sunflower Star
Sunflower Star. Photo courtesy Janna Nichols


As one of the most commonly used components of the Strategy, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee, partners and ODFW knew Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs) needed a significant update as part of the 10-year Strategy revision.

COAs are priority areas across the state where conservation efforts provide the most benefit to the greatest number of fish and wildlife species of conservation need. Focusing investments in COAs can increase long-term success, maximize effectiveness over larger landscapes, improve funding efficiency, and promote cooperative efforts across ownership boundaries.

Particular care was made to maintain the same intent and definition of ODFW COAs while focusing the revision process on two main elements:

  • Improving access to more information within COA profiles. Each COA connects to a COA profile page within the Strategy website, providing information on recommended conservation actions, local conservation actions and plans, potential partners, special features, Strategy Habitats, and Strategy Species. Wherever possible, information within a COA profile links to specific partner or project web sites, providing more detail for anyone interested in conservation actions in a given area. These profiles are intended to be dynamic and updated with new projects, partners, and species and habitat data as it is made available. Please contact ODFW if you have more information or a potential project you’d like to add to a COA profile.

There are 206 COAs covering about one-third of the state of Oregon. The COA page within the Strategy website includes interactive maps, detailed profile pages, background information and more on the revised COAs.



The Oregon Nearshore Strategy is the marine component of the Oregon Conservation Strategy and was also updated.
Highlights of the update:

  • Redefined boundary - the Nearshore Ecoregion now includes all state waters from the outer boundary of Oregon’s Territorial Sea 3 nautical miles from shore up into the saltwater portions of our estuaries.
  • Habitat descriptions - The new federally-adopted Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard is used to describe habitats.
  • Strategy Species – updated based on new information and better integration with the Oregon Conservation Strategy.
  • Information – extensive information on the effects of global climate change and ocean acidification on Oregon’s nearshore and coastal waters is included. New information on species, habitats, coastal communities and factors affecting species and habitats is included.
  • User-friendly – reorganized information and a search feature make it easy to find information.
  • Better integration – the Conservation Strategy and Nearshore Strategy are extensively interlinked where species, their habitats and conservation issues overlap.

Newly added Strategy Species in the Nearshore include:

  • Southern Resident Killer whales which are now known to use Oregon’s Nearshore waters during the winter months.
  • Several species of forage fish and estuarine species of invertebrates.
  • 10 species of shorebirds and seabirds.
  • Native eel grass which is a habitat forming species that is part of the essential fish habitat for both groundfish and salmon.

One major improvement in the updated Nearshore Strategy is additional information on ocean bottom substrates and habitats. The percentage of Oregon’s Territorial Sea mapped with modern side scan sonar technology increased from six percent to 53 percent over the last decade. The updated maps use the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification System to show the finer resolution now available, especially in the rocky subtidal areas.

Climate change and ocean acidification were identified as important factors affecting fish and wildlife species in Oregon Nearshore waters. The updated Nearshore Strategy provides a wealth of information on these topics. A Strategy Spotlight featuring the video “Ocean Acidification – Changing Waters on the Oregon Coast” provides information on the causes of ocean acidification, its effects on marine life in our coastal waters, and why Oregon is at the forefront of these changes taking place in our oceans.

The Nearshore Strategy website also features video footage captured with tools that staff at the Marine Resources Program use to investigate species that live underwater. These videos provide a look at species and habitats that few people get the opportunity to see firsthand.

Finally, the recommended voluntary actions designed to promote conservation of Nearshore species and habitats were updated. Each recommendation addresses priority Nearshore issues and relies on partners to differing degrees. These recommendations will help guide collaborations on Nearshore conservation actions into the foreseeable future.


Compass was significantly upgraded and is even easier to use.


ODFW’s Compass online mapping tool has proven to be successful for project planners, providing spatial information on Oregon’s fish and wildlife species and habitats and helping users make informed decisions. 

A significant upgrade was completed to the Compass mapping platform alongside the development of Among many other improvements to the Compass platform, additional layers were added to provide quick and easy access to spatial representations of Strategy priorities across the landscape:

  • Strategy Species habitat distribution models
  • Strategy Habitats range maps
  • Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs)
  • Key Conservation Issue data layers

Arthur Rodriguez, primary developer of the original Compass released in 2014, expects the new version to surpass users’ expectations.

“We concentrated the upgrade on making Compass easier to use and connected more with the Strategy,” Rodriguez, ODFW’s Conservation Strategy GIS Analyst said.

Highlights of the upgrade:

  • Connectivity to the Strategy – through Compass, users can access specific Strategy content, such as viewing COA profiles through the COA data layer or follow links to Strategy components such as Ecoregions, Strategy Habitats and Strategy Species. This gives additional context and detail to the spatial layers being viewed within Compass.
  • Organization – Compass map layers are now organized by themes, following the same organization used within the Strategy. This allows the inclusion of many more datasets while not overwhelming the user. A search tool lets users immediately find layers of interest.
  • Share maps and information – create user generated maps through selecting map layers and zooming into an area of interest, then save your map to work with later or share it via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Generate reports – use the Strategy Reporting Tool to generate a list of documented Strategy components within a customized project area.
  • Easy to use – use the tutorial to learn more about Compass features, and follow links for each dataset to download GIS data, view data documentation, and link to data sources.

Compass was originally developed alongside the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (WAFWA CHAT, which provided funding, support, and the opportunity for states within the project to develop their own state systems. The crucial habitat assessment layers will continue to be maintained and available within Compass, and a significant update to them was completed in July 2016 using data developed during the Strategy revision.



ODFW thanks all who helped review, update and contribute to the 2016 Oregon Conservation Strategy. We could not have done it without you!

Please continue to promote the recommendations in the Strategy and implement conservation actions statewide. And don’t forget to let us know when you do, we can add your successes to the website.  



Twitter @ODFWConserve
Facebook @ODFWConservation


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.


Meghan Dugan
Oregon Conservation Strategy Communications Coordinator

If you have story ideas, tips or activities to share, please email me!

Print Print




Newsletter archives from 2006

Note: The use of trade, firm or corporation names, products 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.


About Us | Fishing | Hunting | Wildlife Viewing | License / Regs | Conservation | Living with Wildlife | ODFW Outdoors | Workday Login

ODFW Home | Driving Directions | Employee Directory | Social Media | | File Formats | Employee Webmail | ODFW License Agents

4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE   ::   Salem, OR 97302   ::    Main Phone (503) 947-6000 or (800) 720-ODFW [6339]

Do you have a question or comment for ODFW? Contact ODFW's Public Service Representative at:
Share your opinion or comments on a Fish and Wildlife Commission issue at

   © ODFW. All rights reserved. This page was last updated: 12/20/2016 3:23 PM