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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
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The 2014 winning artwork of Western Painted Turtles by Timothy Turenne of Richfield, Minnesota is featured on the label of Conservation Cuvee – Lot 2.

November 2014

CONTENTS

Artwork and wine benefit Oregon wildlife
Planners: check the Oregon Conservation Strategy for a wealth of information 
Researching ringtails
Oregon’s land trust community: preserving the Oregon we know and love
Tiny but not forgotten
Hello

Click on images to enlarge

ARTWORK AND WINE BENEFIT OREGON WILDLIFE

Support your love of Oregon’s wildlife, wine and jazz by heading out to Duck Pond Cellars for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s art show and Duck Pond Conservation Cuvee – Lot 2 wine release party. The free event is Saturday, Nov. 22 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. at Duck Pond Cellars, 23145 Hwy 99W, Dundee.

The art show features more than 70 entries submitted by artists as part of ODFW’s 2015 Habitat Conservation, Upland Game Bird, and Waterfowl Stamp art contests. The winning entry from each contest will be used to produce 2015 collector stamps and other promotional items.  At the art show, visitors can vote for the People’s Choice Award.

In 2013, Duck Pond Cellars began partnering with ODFW by crafting a unique blend of Pinot Noir called Conservation Cuvee – Lot 1. The wine label features the Western Meadowlark, the 2012 Habitat Conservation Stamp winning artwork. Duck Pond Cellars donates $5 for each bottle sold to ODFW’s Conservation Program.

“We are happy to announce the release of Conservation Cuvee – Lot 2, another beautiful wine crafted using fruit from our family’s vineyards throughout Oregon,” said Greg Fries, president and co-owner of Duck Pond Cellars. “This is a classic interpretation of Oregon Pinot Noir – nuanced and somewhat delicate, with earthy undertones and a soft, almost floral, finish."

Conservation Cuvee – Lot 2 features the 2014 winning artwork of Western Painted Turtles by Timothy Turenne of Richfield, Minnesota. This limited production wine can be purchased at Duck Pond Cellars, through the winery’s website, and at select restaurants and wine shops. Once again, $5 from the sale of each bottle helps fund ODFW’s Conservation Program.

Fries recommends pairing this wine with wild mushroom risotto or Northwest salmon. It also makes a terrific partner to Thanksgiving cuisine. He recommends consuming it within in the next few years for optimal fruitiness; those looking for a good candidate for long-term cellaring should consider the heartier Conservation Cuvee - Lot 1 Pinot Noir.

Enjoy live jazz by Whetsell Adams and complimentary tastings of select Duck Pond wines, including both lots of Conservation Cuvee. Please dress warmly as the event will be held in the winery’s bottling line area. For more information on Duck Pond’s conservation efforts, visit www.duckpondcellars.com

Collector stamps and art prints can be purchased online. More information about each stamp is below.

Habitat Conservation Stamp
This stamp and art prints feature wildlife identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as species in need of help, such as the Pygmy Rabbit, Northern Red-legged Frog, Gray Whale and many others. Revenue helps restore habitats essential to declining or at-risk species.

Migratory Waterfowl Stamp
The 2015 waterfowl stamp competition is the first open art competition for this stamp since 1994. From 1995-2013, internationally renowned wildlife artist Robert Steiner was contracted to produce artwork for the waterfowl stamp. Artwork featured on previous stamps included geese, ducks and waterfowl hunting dogs. Artists this year were allowed to feature any ducks and/or geese native to Oregon in their natural habitat.

Upland Game Bird Stamp
Oregon’s upland game bird stamp art contest first began in 1990 and each year features one of 10 upland game bird species found in Oregon. This year, artists were asked to feature Hungarian (gray) partridge.  The sale of waterfowl and upland game bird stamps funds game bird research, surveys, habitat improvement and conservation projects.

PLANNERS: CHECK THE OREGON CONSERVATION STRATEGY FOR A WEALTH OF INFORMATION

Having natural resources information early in the process can help with energy planning, land use planning and more. Where can you get the best information about Oregon’s fish, wildlife and habitats?

Check out the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) Oregon Conservation Strategy at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/index.asp. For detailed GIS maps, go to the Compass map site, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/maps/compass/index.asp.

Want to participate in a revision of the Oregon Conservation Strategy and have your voice be heard? ODFW would love for you to join us. Read on for more information.

In 2005, ODFW embarked on an unprecedented effort to develop the Oregon Conservation Strategy. It was a collaborative public process resulting in a non-regulatory, proactive statewide approach to species and habitat conservation.

The Strategy is part of a nationwide framework for fish and wildlife conservation that:

  • Helps reduce the risk of more threatened and/or endangered species listings
  • Helps agencies collaborate to make the best use of limited conservation dollars
  • Brings resources to Oregon through the State Wildlife Grants program
  • Identifies at-risk species, habitats, Conservation Opportunity Areas, and Key Conservation Issues statewide
  • Provides a central place for state, federal, tribal and local governments, watershed councils, land trusts and special interest groups to find information to help reach their conservation goals.

Along with all 50 states, Oregon’s Strategy is going through a 10-year update to evaluate new data and other information that could help set conservation priorities. Conservation partners are encouraged to participate throughout the revision process to help keep the Strategy relevant to their needs.

The revision will incorporate new science and information and improve conservation tools such as Compass, an online system of maps. Compass helps organizations make informed land use decisions related to fish and wildlife habitat for large projects including energy, transportation, and conservation.

ODFW aims to have a revision undergo technical review in March 2015 and stakeholder and public review by June 2015.

For more information or to get involved, contact:

Andrea Hanson, ODFW Conservation Strategy Coordinator at andrea.v.hanson@state.or.us  
Audrey Hatch, Conservation Strategy Planner at audrey.hatch@gmail.com

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ODFW biologist Rosemary Stussy takes measurements on a ringtail before fitting it with a radio collar. ODFW photo.

RESEARCHING RINGTAILS

The first time Rosemary Stussy saw a ringtail, it was inside a chicken coup with its snack. The next ringtail hitched a ride in the back of a Lowe’s truck headed to Medford. Stussy released both around Lost Creek Reservoir.

Stussy, a wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, spent her early career in eastern Oregon outside the home range of this elusive and secretive critter. She was a researcher involved with the Starkey Project that studied the relationships between deer, elk, cattle and forest management at a landscape level.

“I was fascinated by the ringtails,” Stussy said. “I’ve always been interested in the critters that seem to fall by the wayside, the ones we know very little about. And on a scale of one to 10, their cuteness factor is a 15.”

Ringtails are found in southwestern Oregon down to Mexico. Primarily nocturnal, ringtails are active throughout the year, making dens in rock shelters or hollow trees. Small mammals are a favorite food in the winter. They also eat reptiles, some insects, birds and their eggs, fruits and vegetation.

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This ringtail denned with her juvenile offspring for four months. Jonny Armstrong photo.

Ringtails are one of the Strategy Species in Oregon’s Conservation Strategy. Survey techniques are sorely needed to get baseline information on distribution and establish a survey protocol to monitor changes in distribution over time.

A researcher at heart, Stussy wanted to look for ringtails and initiated a short-term study. Her goal was to develop a survey protocol and begin documenting presence/absence to determine ringtail distribution in southwestern Oregon.

In March 2013, Stussy put out live traps, bait consisting of raisins and jam, and cameras on the south end of Lost Creek Reservoir. No ringtails were seen or trapped in this initial area. However, within two weeks of moving her equipment to the north end, she collared what she believed to be a healthy mother and daughter ringtail.

The adult weighed in at two pounds and the juvenile just one and a half. Stussy documented their denning together in four different sites from July through November.

“I felt privileged to handle and observe such a seldom seen critter,” Stussy said. “The juvenile was very clean, soft, and docile but mama was mean. She did a lot of nervous clicking and some threatening, growling, and lunging – all two pounds of her.”

Stussy moved the cameras and bait around the reservoir and then began heading to the uplands.

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Survey protocols are sorely needed to monitor ringtails in southern Oregon. ODFW photo.

Out of 78 sites sampled, Stussy found ringtails at 19 separate sites. From the results of her sampling, she estimated a density of eight ringtails per square mile in the area where the collared ringtails stayed.

This preliminary work also suggests that placing two cameras per square mile in riparian areas filled with large diameter trees, multi-layered understory, and lots of downed wood, rocks, and snags increases the probability of detecting a ringtail if they are present.

Stussy hopes to one day extend the study to different habitat types such as madrone and tanoak to document ringtail presence, identify all the important habitat components, and get more varied data to develop survey protocols.

“Information on species distribution and abundance is a basic need for wildlife managers. Without this information, we’re managing blind,” Stussy says.

Establishing a formal ringtail survey protocol will allow information to be gathered over time that can identify range contraction or expansion. This information can refine future research needs or direct specific management actions, such as additional protections or relaxed harvest regulations.

“The door is wide open on what research can tell us about these little carnivores, but a formal survey protocol is the beginning step,” Stussy says. “Without additional funding, we’re back to square one.”

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The Woody Wolfe Ranch in Wallowa County is protected with a conservation easement held by Wallowa Land Trust. Dave Jensen photo.

OREGON’S LAND TRUST COMMUNITY: PRESERVING THE OREGON WE KNOW AND LOVE

Oregonians love their open spaces, scenic vistas, working landscapes and natural areas – so much so that some choose to create a land trust to preserve these special places.

A land trust is a non-profit organization formed to protect, preserve, and steward special lands by working with willing landowners and community partners. A land trust’s mission is usually accomplished through a conservation easement (a legal agreement between a landowner and land trust that limits certain uses of a property) or by owning a property either through donation or sale to the land trust for the permanent stewardship and conservation of the land.

The Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts (COLT) is the statewide association of 19 land trusts in Oregon. COLT’s mission is to serve and strengthen the land trust community in the state by giving a central voice to the land trust community.

“The land trust story in Oregon is a very compelling one. What other organization works in such a collaborative, incentive-based way, helping those who care for the land conserve our state’s most special places, in perpetuity, no less? It really is a quite hopeful and inspiring story,” says Mike Running, Communications and Outreach Manager for COLT.

“More than 300,000 acres are protected by our members all across the state,” Running said. “As impressive as this collective impact of our land trusts is, they are often still seen as one of Oregon’s best-kept secrets.”

To help tell this “secret,” COLT increases awareness and visibility of Oregon’s land trusts with decision makers, landowners, and the general public, and shows people how land trusts work to care for unique places across the state.

COLT’s member land trusts use the Oregon Conservation Strategy to guide work around the state. The Strategy provides a touchstone to focus goals of land trusts.

“Oregon’s land trusts are key partners in helping us achieve the conservation strategy priorities identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy,” says Andrea Hanson, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Strategy Coordinator.

Land trusts are often effective in securing funding from a wide variety of sources for their projects, thereby making each dollar go further.

In these challenging economic times, it’s also notable that the work of land trusts often not only helps protect rural economies but also adds value to them.

“A great example of this is the Oregon Rangeland Trust,” Running said. “It helps protect large ranches in eastern Oregon for agricultural production through conservation easements. Easements help protect and maintain the viability of rural agricultural communities not only in Oregon but all across the country as well.”

Landowners who work with a land trust can also often qualify for a tax deduction or lower potential estate taxes.

If you are interested in learning more about land trusts and how people are working to conserve Oregon’s landscapes, please contact COLT at 503-719-4732 or visit their website for a wealth of information, www.oregonlandtrusts.org
 

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Millicoma dace. Doug Markle photo.

TINY BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Millicoma dace are tiny, secretive forage fish found only in the Coos and Millicoma rivers.

It had been about 20 years since anyone checked in on this Oregon native, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists were wondering how they were doing. In fact, Charleston District Fish Biologist Mike Gray ranked the dace as the fish species of highest concern in his district.

“These fish had only been found in certain areas of the Coos basin. Even if they are healthy in numbers, it takes a dedicated effort to find them,” Gray said. “They might have been doing reasonably well, but we just didn’t know.”

Biologists with the agency’s Native Fish Investigations Program (NFIP) partnered with Oregon State University (OSU) to find out. Paul Scheerer and Shaun Clements led the effort for ODFW, consulting with retired OSU professor Doug Markle. Markle is a noted expert in non-game native fish and can identify Millicoma dace from speckled dace – not always an easy task, especially to the inexperienced eye.

Scheerer began by scouring historical records for information on Millicoma dace. The OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife has a large collection of fishes that have been positively identified with information about when and where specimens were collected, by whom, and other data such as sampling method and stream temperatures. 

Scheerer found 22 historical records of Millicoma dace from 15 sampling locations scattered from 1961 to 1997, giving them a starting point to look for the dace.

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Biologists  backpack-electrofishing for Millicoma dace. Left to right: Paul Scheerer, ODFW; Jen Feola and Stephanie Messerle, Bureau of Land Management; and Andrew Pickens, Oregon State University.  Doug Markle photo.

The researchers, along with two OSU students and other ODFW and Bureau Land Management biologists spent two weeks on the Coos and Millicoma rivers, sampling 18 sites using backpack-electrofishing gear.

“We were pretty amazed at what we found when we figured out what type of habitat they like,” Scheerer said. “We were able to find them in 16 of the 18 sites sampled.”

Scheerer says the dace, which average two to five inches in length, prefer swift water with cobbles and boulders to hide under.

“This type of habitat comprises only about 10 percent of what’s out there, which could explain why biologists have had difficulty finding them,” Scheerer said. “Old logging splash dams scoured many of the stream beds in the area down to bedrock, reducing the amount of coarse substrate, like cobble and small boulders, and large wood that the fish rely on for cover.”

Preliminary estimates suggest there were from 20 to 400 fish per location and the known distribution now covers approximately 40 stream miles including locations further upstream than previously thought.

“I think the fact that we found them in reasonably large numbers indicates they’re healthy. Historically, they were probably more abundant, but what we found now doesn’t indicate the population is in any imminent danger,” Scheerer said.

Millicoma dace are currently classified as a “Strategy Species” in the Oregon Conservation Strategy. Strategy Species are defined as species with low and/or declining populations or are otherwise at risk.

This information will be used to evaluate whether Millicoma dace should remain on the Oregon Conservation Strategy Species list and illustrates the need for current, comprehensive surveys to assess distribution and abundance of Oregon’s lesser known, native non-game species.

The data collected in 2014 will serve as a baseline to assess the status and trends of the species in the future. Ideally, surveys will be conducted at regular intervals, about every five years, to confirm the dace are still healthy, or if necessary, to guide actions to prevent substantial declines.

HELLO

Hello, my name is Meghan Dugan, and I’m your new Conservation Strategy Communications Coordinator. I’ve been with ODFW since January 1999 working as the Public Information Officer for the Southwest Region, now the southern portion of the West Region. I am now working for both the region and the Conservation Program.  

Conservation is a whole new world to me, and I’m excited to learn this aspect of ODFW. I do need your help though, with story ideas for this newsletter. Please contact me in Roseburg at 541-440-3353 x252 or email meghan.c.dugan@state.or.us

I look forward to hearing about your conservation work!

Meghan

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.

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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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