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Elk Head CONSERVATION
Native fish, wildlife and their habitat
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Townsend’s big-eared bat
The charismatic Townsend’s big-eared bat is classified as a State Sensitive Species.
- Don Albright photo -

On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

October 2010

Shorter days and wet weather didn’t curtail fall conservation projects. This issue of the newsletter highlights some of the autumn’s work.

CONTENTS

Biologists Hope Invasive Species Can’t Take the Heat
KBO Publishes Aquatic Bird Site Data on Web
Maintaining Landscapes for Birds Requires Planning
Coastal Stream is Reborn
One Small Thing

Biologists Hope Invasive Species Can’t Take the Heat

Male feral swine
Male feral swine collared in October.
- ODFW photo -
Feral swine damage
Feral swine damage riparian areas as well as range and agricultural land.
- ODFW photo -
Dirk Patterson and Dan Ethridge
ODFW’s Dirk Patterson and Dan Ethridge were part of the crew that removed Chinese mystery snails from two Jackson County ponds.
- ODFW photo -

The dynamic duo of ODFW’s invasive species experts Keith Kohl and Rick Boatner are keeping the heat on some of Oregon’s newest invaders.

As terrestrial invasive species coordinator, Kohl has kicked the fight against feral swine up a notch with a new tracking and monitoring program. In October, Kohl and a Madras-based ODFW team captured 12 feral swine on private land in southern Wasco County. Ten of the pigs were euthanized and a male and female were fitted with collars containing small radio transmitters. Kohl is hopeful that ongoing monitoring will help him obtain the information he needs to reach the goal of eradicating feral swine from the state.

“We want to know where the pigs go and what habitat they use,” said Kohl. “We’ll also be able to locate them to see if they have found other pigs and to let landowners know if pigs have moved onto their land.”

The male swine was collared around the neck with a yellow band, the female with yellow banding around the body in hopes that hunters will recognize that the pigs are collared and avoid shooting them.

Collars and telemetry equipment were paid for by Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District, Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Oregon Hunters Association and ODFW.

In the aquatic arena, Rick Boatner and crew have Chinese mystery snails in their sights. An infestation of the nonnative snails in two ponds in Jackson County was recently attacked with a treatment of copper sulfate, a product approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and used by a number of states to deal with nonnative snails.

Chinese mystery snails were probably put into the ponds by citizens dumping contents of home aquariums. While the mystery snails can be kept captively, it is illegal to release them into Oregon’s waters.

“They are pretty nasty critters in the wild,” said Boatner. “They host parasites that can infect humans and interfere with food webs.”

Additionally, the snails can clog water pipes and outcompete native snails for food and habitat.

Education is an important part of both Kohl and Boatner’s jobs. They regularly give media interviews, work with landowners, visit pet stores and cooperate with other agencies and organizations.

Contact Keith. Contact Rick.

Feral swine fact sheet, Feral swine brochure for landowners, Hunting feral swine
Chinese and Japanese Mystery Snail Fact Sheet

KBO Publishes Aquatic Bird Site Data on Web

A two-year effort recently culminated in the launch of Klamath Bird Observatory’s web-based inventory of important aquatic bird sites.The new online site descriptions compile information such as water level fluctuations, land ownership, access issues, visibility constraints and aquatic birds expected to be present.

Sycan Marsh
Lake County's Sycan Marsh is the subject of one of KBO's Important Aquatic Bird Site Descriptions.
- Jessie Williamson Photo -

“It’s pretty exciting to get this online,” said Karen Hussey, KBO Research and Monitoring Program manager. “A lot of this information existed previously, but it was often only recorded piecemeal in a local office and only known by a handful of people. Now the information is available to all and will continue to be updated with the help of managers and citizen scientists.”

The new website presents information in a standardized way on 74 key aquatic bird sites across Oregon and six in northwestern California. KBO expects this information to be valuable to researchers and land managers as well as the general public and citizen scientists.

“It’s a relatively new product but so far has been quite useful in coordinating aquatic bird monitoring and facilitating regional surveys,” said Hussey.

The project was a part of the Intermountain West Coordinated Bird Monitoring Program’s west-wide effort. Many partners contributed information. Funding came from an ODFW Strategy Implementation Grant, the Charlotte Martin Foundation, Pacific Coast Joint Venture and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Klamath Bird Observatory is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing bird and habitat conservation through science, education and partnerships. KBO’s work focuses in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California, renowned for its outstanding biological diversity.

western meadowlark
The western meadowlark is in decline in the Valley.
- Dave Budeau photo -

Contact Karen.

Maintaining Landscapes for Birds Requires Planning

The Managing Land with Minimal Impact to Birds workshop held in October at the Oregon Zoo drew a sold out crowd of landscapers, park managers, road maintenance crews, Soil and Water Conservation District personnel, private landowners and others.

The basic message to attendees was to avoid disturbing birds by mowing, removing invasive species, performing stream enhancement and other habitat projects during the nesting season—a tall order as the majority of birds nest in summer when most project work is done.

To help demystify nesting seasons and species, attendees received a copy of an excellent guidance document, Avoiding Impacts on Nesting Birds During Construction and Revegetation Projects, produced by the City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services, which includes best management practices for habitat restoration and vegetation activities during nesting seasons.

Andrea Hanson, ODFW Strategy Species coordinator, talked about species of special concern in the Valley, offering species profiles and recorded bird calls. Birds featured in her presentation, Current Species Declines in the Willamette Valley, included the streaked horn lark, acorn woodpecker and willow flycatcher.

Where Birds Build Nests
Click to Enlarge

In her presentation, Integrating Bird Conservation and Natural Resources Management: Best Management Practices , Jennifer Devlin, City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services, presented guidelines on the best time for tree removal, invasive plant species management, and grubbing and clearing. Her basic recommendation: Aug. 1 to Jan. 31. She admits, “Avoiding nesting season will require a change in the way we do some of our work.” See her presentation for specific information.

A good place to start when planning projects is to learn about nesting seasons. Early nesters including owls, hawks, herons and hummingbirds nest between Feb. 1 and April 15. Most species are primary nesters who build nests and hatch nestlings between April 15 and July 31. The willow flycatcher, which nests from June 1 through Sept. 1, is considered a late nester.

The workshop was hosted by the Oregon Zoo in partnership with ODFW, Audubon Society of Portland, Metro Science and Stewardship, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Oregon State Parks, USFS and BLM. Additional presentations from the conference are available on ODFW’s website.

A Coastal Stream is Reborn

Troy Laws an ODFW fish biologist first became aware of the obstructions salmon faced when migrating through Circle Creek when he was a biology student at Seaside High School. Little did he know that 30 years later he would be part of the project team that returned the stream to a more natural condition.

“I always wondered if there would come a day when this problem could be fixed,” Laws said. “I just didn’t know I would be involved in it.”

Volunteers

Volunteers from the Rainland Flycasters and Trout Unlimited take a break from putting the deck on a new bridge over the mouth of Circle Creek at the Seaside Golf Course.
- ODFW photo -

Kaino & Laws
Ryan Kaino (left), Lewis & Clark Oregon Timber forest engineer, and Troy Laws ODFW biologist, on Circle Creek which is in a Strategy Conservation Opportunity Area.
- ODFW photo -

The problem that existed for so many years was centered at the mouth of Circle Creek at its confluence with the Necanicum River near Seaside. An asphalt golf cart crossing and undersized culverts plugged the channel, impeding migrating fish. A significant restoration was needed to relink the stream and the associated large Sitka Spruce wetland behind the golf cart crossing. Historically, the wetland served as refuge for juvenile fish completing the freshwater rearing phase of their life cycle before entering the ocean to become adults.

To remedy the situation took many volunteers and donors. Laws, who grew up in the area used his connections and knowledge of the watershed to coordinate efforts. Seaside Golf Course was an enthusiastic participant in the project that included replacing the golf cart crossing with a new bridge. Today, not only does the bridge provide better fish passage from the mouth to the headwaters of Circle Creek, it is also expected to help reduce flooding on the golf course during periods of high tide when there is a large volume of stream runoff.

A related project on the upper reaches of Circle Creek obliterated a mile of logging road and restored natural stream functions, including the original meander and valley form by removing fill from old roadbeds and reshaping the surrounding topography, then reseeding it with native vegetation. More than 300 trees provided by Lewis & Clark Oregon Timber were placed throughout the stream corridor to create spawning pools, cover, and food for coho, steelhead and cutthroat trout as well as habitat for frogs, turtles and salamanders. Fish passage improvement was also addressed on this project, where five of eight road stream crossings were permanently removed and three others brought into compliance with state fish passage standards.

Circle Creek, which flows down Tillamook Head to the ocean, is located in a Strategy Conservation Opportunity Area—a place where restoration work benefits many fish and wildlife species.

Partners in the projects included Seaside Golf Course, Big River Excavation, Rainland Flycasters, Trout Unlimited, the Necanicum Watershed Council, North Coast Land Conservancy, Lewis & Clark Oregon Timber, McGee Engineering, Sopko Welding, Save Our Wild Salmon and Seaside ProBuild Builders Supply. Funding came from a number of sources including grants from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, ODFW Restoration and Enhancement Program, Trout Unlimited Embrace a Stream program and USFWS.

ONE SMALL THING

E-cycle—it’s the right thing to do. Oregon E-Cycles is a free, easy and environmentally responsible recycling program for computers, monitors and TVs. The program is financed by electronics manufacturers and implemented with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. To find an Oregon E-Cycles collection site near you, visit DEQ's search page or call 1-888-532-9253.

PAST ISSUES OF THE NEWSLETTER

On the Ground newsletter archives

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 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.

EDITOR

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

To subscribe or unsubscribe, please e-mail the editor. 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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