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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

Oregon Conservation Strategy Implementation Grants Application

June 2007


Invasive Thistles Removed

If ODFW Wildlife Biologist Keith Kohl invites you to a barbeque on the Lower Deschutes River in June, bring your shovel and work gloves―Scotch thistle eradication is on the agenda. A non-native noxious weed, Scotch thistle easily overtakes native plants and impacts wildlife. So on June 8 and 9, volunteers from the Oregon Chapter of the Foundation for Wild Sheep and ODFW staff worked their way down the river, destroying as much of the invasive weed as possible.

“Scotch thistle is very destructive. It takes hold quickly and can form an impenetrable jungle, blocking access to the river for both anglers and wildlife,” explains Keith. “One problem with Scotch thistle is that it’s a water hog. In this area, it creeps up the hills and encroaches on springs, sucking vital water out of the system.”

Over the weekend opportunities to view Big Horn Sheep rams, ewes and lambs were salve to blistered hands and tired backs. And, oh, yes, there was that barbeque.

E-mail Keith,

Photos and more: Oregon Department of Agriculture

Steelheaders Advance Strategy

Their mission statement says it all: Anglers dedicated to enhancing and protecting fisheries and their habitats for today and the future.

“Habitat work has always been at the center of our activities,” said Norm Ritchie, executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders. “We log thousands of volunteer hours every year on work in streams and riparian areas.” And, as the Oregon Affiliate of the National Wildlife Foundation, the group is very involved with the Conservation Strategy. “It’s great because it gives everyone in the state a blueprint to consult when determining what projects to work on.”

Working with fellow Steelheader members, Todd Crawford and Doug Hunt, Norm is focused on getting information about the Strategy to all the group’s chapters this year.

Todd, who has taken on the role of Teaming with Wildlife coordinator, attended that group’s annual meeting in Washington D.C. in February and found out first hand how important it is to take an active role in informing our legislators about the conservation work that needs to be done in Oregon and what it is going to cost.

“I’m such a field-work kind of guy, I never realized how important my viewpoint can be to legislators,” said Todd, who obviously took as much away from his visit to Washington as he contributed. “I’m really interested in helping build the Teaming collation. And, I’m paying a lot more attention to things like recycling.”

Grant Application Requests Top Two Million

ODFW received 67 Oregon Conservation Strategy Implementation grant applications requesting over 2.1 million dollars by the application deadline on June 15. There is about $400,000 available through the federal State Wildlife Grant program for distribution.  

“We are excited about the tremendous response and the great diversity of applicants and projects. It shows a strong need for conservation funding,” said Peg Boulay, Strategy implementation and grant coordinator. “At this point we have no pre-conceived ideas of what type of projects will be funded, but we have a lot of interesting proposals to choose from. We will review the applications in July and announce recipients in August.”

Applications will be scored on how well they implement specific actions identified in the Strategy, on methods and other technical considerations, and on requirements such as matching funds. E-mail Peg Boulay

Landowner Tree School Digs The Strategy

Every spring, family forest landowners are invited to go back to school by the Clackamas Farm Forestry Association, OSU Extension Services and partners. “Tree School”, as it is known, offers dozens of short courses in everything from forest management for alternative products to wood technology to marketing to the environment.

This year instructors Jim Cathcart, Oregon Department of Forestry, and Gina LaRocco, Defenders of Wildlife, introduced landowners to the Conservation Opportunity Area (COA) Explorer, a Web-based mapping and navigation tool for locating COAs defined in the Strategy.

“The COA Explorer is an easy and fun way to view the location of a family’s forestland with respect to important conservation areas,” said Jim.“Not only does it tell landowners what COA their land is in, or near, but also cites the key habitats in need of conservation, key species that would benefit from the habitat conservation, what other planning efforts are underway and recommendations for taking action.”

Jim and Gina showcased the COA Explorer in the class Emerging Markets for Ecosystem Services. According to Jim, a lot of landowners are interested in learning how to receive payments for ecosystem services as an incentive to providing them. One of the first steps to accessing these developing markets and payment mechanisms is to have a good understanding of the type of ecosystem services forestlands provide or could provide.

“Awareness of key species and habitats is the first step to conservation. The COA Explorer can facilitate that awareness for the forest landowner community,” said Jim.

E-mail Jim at

Partners protect aspens in Malheur National Forest

In June, volunteers from OHA’s Capitol Chapter and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation trekked to the Malheur National Forest to help protect declining aspen groves. Aspens have been declining due to encroachment of conifers, a lack of fire that aspens need to stimulate new growth and by over-browsing by livestock, deer and elk. Aspen groves are a Strategy habitat, important for game and nongame wildlife alike.

As part of the project, 22 acres of aspens and meadow including a stream were fenced. Volunteers from the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs lent a hand with the fencing. In addition to keeping big game from feeding on the small aspen trees, the fence will keep livestock out of the groves. Next, small conifers will be removed by the USFS to provide open sun for the aspens. In a few years, when the aspen are well established, the upper portion of the fence will be removed to allow use by big game.

“Aspen groves are important ecosystems—they support a variety of wildlife by providing nesting sites and forage for deer and elk,” said Dave Wiley, OHA and RMEF volunteer on the project. Dave was the OHA representative on the Strategy stakeholder advisory committee and is currently the Oregon Habitat Team Leader for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Funding for the project was provided by OHA, RMEF, National Wild Turkey Federation and the USFS.

more information:

Oregon legislators write check for songbirds

Fueled by the testimony of a bevy of environmental, hunting and fishing conservation group leaders who testified in favor of funding for the Strategy during ODFW’s budget hearing, the Oregon Legislature provided the department with seed money for a Strategy-focused project in the Willamette Valley. The project will work to restore grassland habitat for western meadowlarks and other grassland dependent species which have declined dramatically in the Valley.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to take action focused on restoring Oregon’s state bird and the grassland habitat they depend on,” said Holly Michael, Conservation Strategy leader. “We would love to return the meadowlark to the landscape so Oregonians can again hear the bird’s melodious song.” 

In 1927, the western meadowlark was chosen as state bird by a popular vote of Oregon school children.

ODFW will hire a grassland biologist to work with private landowners; watershed councils; state and federal agencies; soil and water conservation districts and others on this Valley-wide project. There will be some project dollars to contribute to on-the-ground activities, and the department will work to leverage those dollars with partnerships.

To see a photo of the western meadowlark and hear its call, visit

Private timber company improves riparian habitat

When ODFW Biologist Jay Doino first surveyed Quartz Creek with Joe Koontz of Swanson Group timber company, he knew the large wood placement work Swanson was prepared to do would improve spawning and rearing habitat to benefit coho, steelhead and resident trout. What he didn’t know until he did a little digging into department records was that the same work would improve habitat for the native Pacific lamprey, a Strategy species.

“I discovered earlier information that suggested incidence of a high number of juvenile lamprey in Quartz Creek,” said Jay. “If we can improve habitat for the native species we originally targeted, it should also benefit lamprey as all these species co-evolved in the same habitats.”

Habitat loss and passage barriers have contributed to the decline of the Pacific lamprey. Quartz Creek is located northwest of Grants Pass. Jay Doino works out of ODFW’s Central Point office.

More information on the Pacific lamprey

Send us news about Your strategy-related projects

Meg Kenagy, editor and Conservation Strategy media coordinator
Peg Boulay, Conservation Strategy outreach coordinator

Contact Information

Meg Kenagy
(503) 947-6021

Oregon Conservation Strategy

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