CHARLESTON, Ore. — About 65 acres of oak woodland will be restored on the Chandler Family Ranch in Coos County with funding assistance from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Access and Habitat Program. Oak woodlands are rare in the southern Oregon Coast Range and have been identified in ODFW’s Oregon Conservation Strategy as a key habitat type in need of restoration.
In return for the grant, the landowners will allow some public hunting access to 1,350 acres of private land on a by-permission basis for five years.
“Oak woodlands are a very important habitat type for wildlife,” said Stuart Love, ODFW district wildlife biologist for the Umpqua Watershed District. “It is utilized by big game, upland birds and a variety of non-game species.”
Oak woodland habitat was once more widespread in the southern Oregon Coast Range, where naturally-occurring wildfires along with fires set deliberately by Native Americans and early settlers to clear the land created open areas that encouraged oak forests to grow. A later shift in land management practices that favored coniferous trees resulted in a decline in oak woodlands. Today, they exist only in scattered locations on the south coast.
To restore the oak woodlands on the ranch, the landowners will remove encroaching conifers, plant oak seedlings and conduct brush and noxious weed control.
“It’s unfortunate that we don’t have much oak woodland habitat in the region,” said Love. “Hopefully, with projects like this one, we will have more in the future.”
In addition to the A&H Program grant, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Coquille Watershed Association and ODFW are also contributing to the project.
The A&H Program is funded by a $2 surcharge on hunting licenses. Funds raised by the program are distributed through grants to individual and corporate landowners, conservation organizations and others for cooperative wildlife habitat improvement and hunter access projects throughout the state.
For information on the A&H Program call program coordinator Matt Keenan at 503-947-6087 or visit the website at www.dfw.state.or.us/AH/.