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

June 2008

It’s hard to get a biologist, conservationist or habitat restorationist on the phone in the summer—everyone’s in the field counting birds, surveying streams, pulling weeds or restoring habitat. Fortunately, a few folks took the call, and the time, to talk about their Strategy-related work.

Contents

ONE TREE AT A TIME

Single green trees left by loggers in an upland forest provide a place for wildlife to nest, take shelter, den and find food. When the tree dies and becomes a snag, it gives shelter to perching and cavity nesting birds. When the winter wind topples it, it provides haven for frogs and salamanders until, eventually, it nourishes the earth by providing organic matter and nutrients to the soil.

While many forest managers understand how single trees can be beneficial, a number of things are not as well understood—for example, how to identify good wildlife tree locations, how to determine the optimal number of trees to leave in an area and how to safely log around the trees. To share the most recent information about wildlife trees, the Oregon Department of Forestry and ODFW held a workshop in Tillamook in June.

The workshop, which drew more than 40 commercial forestland managers and stewardship foresters from the mid- and north coast, focused on opportunities to work within the Forest Practices Act to improve green tree, snag and wood distribution in harvest areas while meeting business objectives for timber production and reforestation.

“Our goal was to give forest managers all of the information they need to make educated decisions about wildlife trees and to inspire folks to leave trees in a variety of locations to improve habitat for wildlife,” said Herman Biederbeck, ODFW Wildlife biologist.

Based on evaluations and comments, workshop goals were met. “With all the positive feedback, we hope to be able to offer workshops like this in other parts of the state,” said Biederbeck.

The Oregon Conservation Strategy was integrated into discussions as it relates to forest management in the coast range ecoregion and the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.

Sponsors included the Oregon State Implementation Committee for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Weyerhaeuser Company, Stimson Lumber, Western Helicopters, Inc, OSHA and OSU Extension Service.

For more information, contact Herman Biederbeck, ODFW, Herman.H.Biederbeck@state.or.us or Jennifer Weikel, Oregon Department of Forestry, Jennifer.Weikel@state.or.us

WALLOWA< COUNTY WAGES WAR ON WEEDS

Wallowa County has been waging war against weeds for years and is winning a few battles, but there is no time to rest on laurels.

“Right now, we are having success against rush skeletonweed which is sitting on our doorstep at the Idaho border,” said Mark Porter who coordinates the Canyonlands Partnership Cooperative Weed Management Area, Wallowa Resources. “It’s a very aggressive plant that out-competes native grasses and creates big problems in agricultural fields. It’s very hard to kill. So far, we are holding it back.”

Such success depends on the concept of early detection and rapid response—spring finds Porter and team on the ground or in a helicopter, gridding and mapping their region for weeds and identifying areas for eradication.

“Wallowa Resources is doing a great job fighting invasives, especially in the lower Grande Ronde River corridor, but we’d like to expand the areas where we are aggressively working,” said Mike Hansen, ODFW biologist who received an Oregon Conservation Strategy Implementation grant to work with the organization on a weed mapping project.

Hansen’s concern is for wildlife populations who move out when invasives move in. “Right now, starthistle is spreading across acres of native grasses, which serve as winter range for bighorn sheep, elk and deer. It is a very nasty weed, once it moves in, it totally takes over.”

Porter, Hansen and partners will use the Strategy grant to map new weeds of concern, specifically yellow starthistle, medusahead rye and meadow hawkweed.

Additional funding for the weed inventory comes from BLM, OWEB, USFS, the Oregon State Weed Board and others. Wallowa Resources works through partnerships with a diverse group of people to design and realize a new, healthier rural community. For information about Wallowa Resources, visit their website.

For information on yellow starthistle and meadow hawkweed, visit the Oregon Department of Agriculture website.

THE BEAVER ENGINEERS ITS WAY TO CENTER STAGE

Oregon, as every school child knows, is the Beaver State. Linked inexorably to our history, beavers today are often at the center of controversy. On the one hand, they are a keystone species important in engineering habitat for other species, especially threatened coastal coho salmon. On the other hand, their projects can account for timber and flood damage on private property, especially in urban areas and at road crossings.

“Part of the problem is that we really don’t have enough biological information about beavers in relation to habitat,” said Michael Pope, ODFW Conservation Strategy Implementation coordinator. “We know beaver create good habitat for coho, riparian songbirds and frogs, and we also know they can cause problems for property owners.”

Beaver engineering feats include dams which back up water and create a sponge-like effect allowing riparian areas to slowly release water and maintain healthy stream flows during hot, dry summer months. In the wrong place, however, dams can cause flooding of cropland, timber and roadways.

To better understand and help manage beaver, ODFW staff and interested partners from governmental agencies and the private timber industry recently met to identify research projects that will help answer questions about beaver populations, habitat preferences, the viability of beaver relocation and other subjects. A beaver working group will continue to work to identify resources for the research.

For more information on the beaver working group, contact Charlie Corrarino, ODFW Fish Conservation and Recovery Manager, Charles.A.Corrarino@state.or.us

For information on beaver biology and life history, contact ODFW Wildlife Biologist Don Whittaker, Don.Whittaker@state.or.us

merganser
Wood duck nesting box in use by a hen hooded merganser
- Photo by Joe Ricker, OHA -

TREE HOUSES FOR DUCKS

Who knew? Wood ducks need trees. As it turns out these pretty and colorful ducks are one of only a few American ducks that nest in tree cavities—a trait that makes them both unique and vulnerable, especially in areas where land use changes have led to a decrease in the number of large trees and snags.

Fortunately, biologists have determined that wood ducks adapt readily to nesting in manmade boxes. And, thanks in large part to the Oregon Hunters’ Association, wood duck nest boxes are in wide use near streams, ponds and wetlands throughout the state.

“The OHA Capitol Chapter got involved in the 90s when we realized the decline of wood ducks had to do with the decline of nesting sites,” said Joe Ricker, OHA Mid West director. “This Chapter alone makes about a hundred boxes a year. To do it right, it takes about 10 board feet of 12-inch cedar for each box. When you’re buying that much cedar, it adds up.”

Not that expense is a gating item for Ricker and the team that has been involved in the project for 15 years. Every winter, volunteers gather to build and install boxes so they are up and ready for the ducks that arrive in early spring looking for nest sites.

“The wood duck is a species that can really benefit from nest boxes and wetland restoration,” said Dave Budeau, ODFW Upland Bird coordinator. “Nest box monitoring is also an important part of the process. Old nests should be cleaned out at least annually. If boxes are maintained, a wide diversity of other cavity nesting wildlife from flying squirrels to screech owls will find them attractive.”

To underscore the point, Ricker points to a photo of an OHA-built nest box in use by a hen hooded merganser, a small native duck. “If you build it,” he said. “They will come.”

In the Willamette Valley, aquatic, wetland and riparian are identified as Strategy habitats in need of restoration. If you have suitable habitat for wood duck and want nest boxes, contact the Salem-based Capitol Chapter of OHA. E-mail Joe, jricker1@ix.netcom.com

 

THE EARLY BIRD GETS COUNTED

Biologist Anne Mary Myers
Biologist Anne Mary Myers surveying for the western meadowlark

ODFW Grassland Biologist Anne Mary Myers and technician Andrew Wallace are on the ground early on summer mornings, surveying for the western meadowlark and other grassland birds. With some volunteer help from the local birding community, the duo are conducting surveys throughout the Willamette Valley including six Wetland Reserve Program projects on upland grassland/prairie acreage which are being monitored as part of an interagency effort.

“We are surveying in areas slated for habitat restoration,” said Myers. “After the work is done, we’ll resurvey to track the bird community’s response to habitat enhancement.”

Since the western meadowlark was designated as the state bird in 1927, the species has been in decline in western Oregon, due, in part, to loss of native grasslands. Partners in the project include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Institute for Applied Ecology and ODFW who are working together to implement the Strategy in the Valley.

Myers is working with the groups to see that restoration work and plans for future management of the sites are done in “a bird-friendly manner.”

Funding for Myers’ position came from the Oregon Legislature which appropriated funds for the grassland bird recovery efforts. The surveys are funded in part by an Oregon Zoo Future For Wildlife Grant.

For more information on the western meadowlark, visit the ODFW website<

Contact Anne Mary, AnneMary.Myers@state.or.us

ONE SMALL THING

Keep songbirds healthy: feeding birds in your yard is a great way to enjoy birdwatching. Use high quality bird food, never human food. To prevent the spread of disease, clean your feeders frequently with a solution of 10 percent bleach to 90 percent water. Rinse and air-dry before using again.

 

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.

 

For strategy information

Contact Michael Pope

For a copy of the Strategy

Contact Karen Buell at ODFW

EDITOR Contact Information

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


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