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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

December 2006

Some bright spots in conservation activity overshadowed December’s dark skies. We hope you find something in this issue of the newsletter that supports or enlightens a project you are working on or are interested in. Happy Holidays!


Seeking the Elusive Marsh Bird
Interview: Hunters Work to Conserve Wildlife
Allowing Fish Passage
Ecotourism is for the Birds
Attacking Invasives
Remember Nongame in Year-End Giving


Cathy Nowak, ODFW wildlife biologist, is assisting with the restoration of 300 acres of wetlands in ODFW’s Ladd Marsh Wildlife area—a site managed for viewing and hunting with a focus on protecting nesting and migrating waterfowl. Located near La Grande, the area gets about 10,000 visitors a year.

“While we have been restoring wetlands in the wildlife area for years, the Conservation Strategy draws more attention to partnerships and nongame species,” said Nowak. During the last year, she joined the National Marshbird Monitoring Program and now uses a recorded playback survey protocol to locate marsh birds including rails, bitterns and pied-billed grebes. Many marsh bird species are in decline due to habitat loss and are often difficult to monitor because of their secretive nature. The results of the work will provide estimates of current population status and data to study population trends. It will also help managers evaluate the effectiveness of wetland restoration and management practices.

Creation of dikes and swales that help retain water and provide nesting islands is complete and, currently, biologists and volunteers are planting native shrubs and trees in the wetlands. Partners include the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Transportation, Ducks Unlimited and many individual volunteers. Email Cathy at

The National Marshbird Monitoring Program

More information on the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area


Dave Wiley, Oregon Hunter Association representative on the Strategy stakeholder advisory committee, believes hunters were the original conservationists. “They have long understood the importance of healthy habitats to healthy wildlife populations.” But, while working on the Strategy, he learned how little the stereotyped hunter-conservation and environmental groups really knew about each others’ organizations. Over the course of the project, “we educated each other,” says Wiley.

Wiley who has spent decades involved in habitat restoration projects at the “dirt level” says OHA is one of the premier conservation organizations in Oregon. In 2004 alone, the organization completed 72 projects around the state. In conjunction with its partners, volunteers from 21 OHA chapters enhanced 104,000 acres through meadow restoration, marshland enhancement, wildlife water developments, forage seeding, weed control, nesting boxes for wood ducks, song bird and bat houses and other projects.

“Wildlife is a treasure that needs to be conserved,” he explains. “Large game species have been managed for many years. The Strategy extends wildlife management beyond game species into the realm of the nongame wildlife which have been too long marginalized."

What would he like all Oregonians to know about the Strategy? “Have a look at it. There is an incredible amount of opportunity for people to participate in the plan.” Email Dave at

Oregon Hunters Association


Fish passage is identified as a key conservation issue in the Strategy because viability of native migratory fish populations depends on access to habitat—access often inhibited by dams, culverts, and other artificial structures. A newly formed workgroup is developing official statewide fish passage data standards. These standards will allow managers of fish passage inventories to share and combine information. The development of these data standards is an important first step in developing a statewide fish passage inventory. The vision for the statewide fish passage inventory is to combine existing inventories, encourage the addition of new information from standardized on-the-ground surveys, and be accessible over the Internet. Once available, users will be able to look at existing fish passage problems anywhere in the state and prioritize them for restoration efforts.

The fish passage data standard should be developed by the summer of 2007. Once complete, the statewide inventory database can be programmed and populated. Funding sources are still being identified for completion of the statewide inventory.

Participants in the data standard workgroup include Oregon State University's Institute for Natural Resources, Benton Soil and Water Conservation District, Washington County, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, National Marine Fisheries Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Water Resources Department, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, watershed councils and others. For more information, contact Tom Stahl, ODFW Fish Passage Coordinator,

More information on ODFW’s Fish Passage Program


Many in the conservation community believe that employing ecotourism as a strategy can attract new generations of wildlife viewers and benefit local businesses. The Oregon Conservation Strategy states that, when carefully planned and implemented, fish-and wildlife-based tourism can promote conservation through public outreach and support, diversification of local economies and rewarding experiences for a variety of people.

A good example of combining wildlife appreciation with sustainable economies is the Oregon Coast Birding Trail which was recently launched with the introduction of a new comprehensive guide to 173 birding hotspots along the Oregon coast. The guide, which was developed by local birders, wildlife professionals and tourism specialists, is designed to help visitors make the most of their birdwatching experiences.

The Oregon Coast Birding Trail is a self-guided driving itinerary that highlights the best locations for observing birds along the Oregon coast and in Northern California. Sponsors include the National Forest Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association. Birdwatching on the Oregon coast is interesting throughout the year and exceptional during the seasonal drama of spring and fall warbler and shorebird migration.

More information on the trail

Oregon Coast Visitors Association

For more information on ecotourism, see Section B, Page 90 of the Conservation Strategy: Engaging Oregonians in Conservation: Strategy Outreach, Conservation Education and Fish and Wildlife-Based Tourism.


Controlling invasive species is identified as one of the Six Key Statewide Conservation Issues in the Strategy. One of the suggested actions is to: Develop and test additional techniques to deal with invasives and share information with landowners and land managers. The Nature Conservancy's knotweed eradication project on the Sandy River exemplifies this statement.

A review of the project shows how groups and landowners working together, over time, can reduce the spread of invasive species. In this case the culprits are Japanese knotweed and giant knotweed. Importantly, not only did the groups reduce knotweed populations along the river by about 80 percent, they developed a range of best management practices for controlling knotweeds in the Pacific Northwest. The Nature Conservancy Oregon Chapter obtained funding through the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the Bureau of Land Management and the Landowner Incentive Program.

More information

Controlling Knotweed in the Pacific Northwest (pdf)


If you or your business are considering year-end giving, please remember the ODFW Nongame Wildlife Fund. Make a tax-deductible donation and know that your money will leverage more through matching grants. Your contributions are vital to the protection of Oregon’s wildlife heritage and diversity. We recommend you check with your tax advisor before making any non-profit gift.

Oregon Nongame Wildlife Fund
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
3406 Cherry Avenue NE
Salem, Oregon 97303-4924

Holly Michael, ODFW Conservation Strategy Coordinator
Meg Kenagy, Editor and ODFW Strategy Media Coordinator

Contact Information
Meg Kenagy

Oregon Conservation Strategy

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