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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

April 2008

April showers turned snowy this year, bears slept in a little longer and gray clouds reigned over much of Oregon, but we saw lots of bright spots in the conservation communities.


To the Bat Grid

Big Brown Bat
- Photo by Michelle Slosser-

Before you ask Pat Ormsbee why she dedicates her career to the study of bats, fill up your coffee cup. It’s not a short answer, and you won’t want to miss a word of it.

“Bats are incredibly fascinating and mysterious and intelligent,” she says. “They are the only flying mammal, they use sonar to navigate and they are attentive parents—we can learn a lot from maternal bat colonies about collaboration and caring for young in a group setting. In fact, I’d give anything to be a bat for five minutes.”

Ormsbee, who works in Oregon for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management as a bat specialist, relates story after story about her field work and studies, but one issue really causes her to pull out her soapbox— inventory and monitoring.

“Throughout my career I have always felt that if we had been allowed the time to collect baseline data on species, we would be farther ahead in our ability to deal with the problems facing us today—fire, urban growth, global climate change and others. To implement effective conservation efforts, we have to know what we have, where it is and how it’s doing.”

It is this passion that led Ormsbee to orchestrate the Bat Grid Inventory and Monitoring Group which set out six years ago to standardize and improve methods to collect and assess data on 16 species of native bats in Oregon and Washington. Fueled by 20 group partnerships, more than 50 volunteers and five major funding sources, the group is well on its way to meeting its objectives.

Ormsbee cites successes that include: defining new survey methods that are less invasive to bats; developing an innovative grid-based sampling design; collecting good baseline data on where bat species are located and how they are doing; and training volunteers and biologists on effective monitoring practices.

She also works with the Oregon Conservation Strategy Fish and Wildlife Monitoring team. “I really applaud Oregon for making a commitment to monitoring. It is overdue and critical to the future of our fish and wildlife.”

Ormsbee earned a B.S. in Natural Resource Science and a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science from OSU. For her Master’s she studied day-roosting of long-legged myotis (Myotis volans), a native forest-dwelling bat. She has worked for the U.S. Forest Service since 1974.

The Bat Grid project is funded by the U. S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Bat Conservation International.

For information on long-legged myotis and other bat species, visit the Smithsonian Museum website and the Western Bat Working Group website.

Contact Pat by e-mail at


The Oregon State Weed Board is currently accepting applications for grant funding for noxious weed control projects related to the protection and enhancement of watersheds and fish and wildlife.

“We are really pleased to be able to offer this round of funding at a time when invasive species are getting a lot of attention in the media,” said Shannon Brubaker, grant administrative analyst. “It’s gratifying to see more people making the connection between invasive weeds and healthy fish and wildlife populations.”

To award grants, the OSWB staff use a number of plans and resources including the Conservation Opportunity Areas as identified in the Strategy. Specific criteria is outlined within the grant application. Apply by July 11, 2008.

The grant application is available on the ODA Plant Division, Noxious Weed Control website.

Contact Shannon at (503) 986-4622 or e-mail

Fanno Creek Revives

Fanno Creek, which originates in the West Hills and flows through Portland, Beaverton, Tigard, Durham and Tualatin on its way to the Tualatin River, is one of the most urbanized streams in the watershed. It was one of the earliest sub-watersheds to be developed—riparian buffer standards and other protections were not in place at the time.

“Fanno Creek has been beaten up,” said Peter Guillozet, Clean Water Services Project Manager, in what seems an understatement. The creek suffers from storm water runoff, invasive species, and developed floodplains. It has water quality problems such as high summertime water temperatures and pollutants from streets, parking lots and lawns.

Faced with this daunting list of problems and increasing urbanization, the question has to be asked, why even try to fix it?

“Because nature is resilient,” said Guillozet, who is currently working on the Fanno Creek Enhancement Project at Greenway Park. “We can’t return the creek to its historic condition, but we can restore it to its maximum potential based on the constraints—we can make it better ecologically and visually.”

Bobby Cochran, Environmental Marketplace Analyst for Clean Water Services, agrees.

“Fanno Creek is a great story. There are many individuals, agencies and organizations working to restore it, and we are seeing results. We have now confirmed findings of cutthroat trout at one of our project sites. There are also native turtles and frogs in the creek.”

Cochran served on the technical advisory committee during development of the Conservation Strategy. Why, we asked him, with all the conservation plans and projects, is the Strategy important?

“It’s important to have a statewide Strategy that puts what we do in context, linking together local conservation projects across the state at a scale that makes a real difference for fish and wildlife,” said Cochran.

Clean Water Services is a wastewater and stormwater public utility committed to protecting water resources in Oregon's Tualatin River Watershed.

For more information: Clean Water Services, Fanno Creek Enhancement Project at Greenway Park

Landowner Workshop Slated for Pendleton

ODFW and Blue Mountain Community College are partnering to hold a one-day workshop in Pendleton on Saturday, June 21 for private landowners.

The brainchild of Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Bobby Levy, the workshop will provide information to rangeland and agricultural landowners on conservation practices that benefit landowners and wildlife. Topics to be covered include the Oregon Conservation Strategy;

habitat and conservation incentive and assistance programs for private landowners; invasive species; and how to create a habitat plan.

The workshop, which will be held at Blue Mountain Community College, is free and lunch is included. Registration is required. For more information, contact Karen Buell at ODFW, (503) 947-6306 or

STRATEGY ADVOCATE works the watershed

ODFW biologist Doug Cottam doesn’t hesitate when asked why he chose wildlife management as a career. “Genes,” he said. “My parents, grandparents and uncles were all involved with wildlife or science or the outdoors.”

That his parents were college professors only ensured the die was cast.

“Every summer, we traveled around the country. I have camped and hiked in all 48 states.”

Today, Cottam is a district wildlife biologist for the North Coast Watershed and a district Strategy coordinator tasked with facilitating local involvement in the Strategy.

“When the opportunity came up, I volunteered. Of course, I still have my day job, but what keeps me enthused about Strategy outreach is the response I get. As a general rule, people are very receptive and encouraged. They want to know, what can I do?”

To date, Cottam, fellow district biologist Herman Biederbeck and other ODFW staff members have made presentations to the Watershed Councils in the district, local state foresters and other groups.

Doesn’t he find the Strategy a complicated subject to cover in a meeting?

“Not at all. People are very receptive. They like the fact the Strategy helps you focus on what is important. Especially, if they want to make an investment—knowing where to work and what species will benefit allow them to get the biggest bang for their buck.”

Cottam’s goals for 2008 include outreach to federal agencies in the watershed, a summer workshop for landowners and ongoing work to incorporate Strategy objectives into the New Carissa mitigation site plan.

Cottam holds a Master’s degree from OSU and a PhD from Penn State University. He is one of 12 regional Strategy coordinators who answer questions and provide outreach in their areas. For a list of coordinators and contact information, visit the ODFW website, Conservation Strategy tools section.


A new report, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Role of Plants in State Wildlife Action Plans, recognizes Oregon as one of only four states that addressed plant species comprehensively in its Conservation Strategy.

Produced by NatureServe, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide the scientific basis for effective conservation action, report authors studied all 56 U.S. plans to answer the question: “How well do wildlife action plans consider plant species and—whether by design or serendipity—address their conservation needs?”

And here’s part of the answer, quoted directly from the report: “Of the plans that included plants as species of greatest conservation need, only Oregon and Guam included specific conservation actions targeted to each plant on the list.”

“We felt it was important to include plants in the Strategy; they have important scientific, economic and aesthetic values,” said Peg Boulay, ODFW Sensitive Species coordinator. “Conserving them helps keep all of the pieces of Oregon’s habitats intact.”

Plant species content was primarily provided by the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Native Plant Conservation Program which has responsibility for plant conservation in the state. Other contributors included Oregon State University’s Institute of Natural Resources, the Native Plant Society of Oregon and ODFW. The NatureServe report was produced with funding from the Doris Duke Foundation.

The report is available on NatureServe’s website.


Wild Turkey
- National Wild Turkey Federation-

Not too many people know as much about working with the western Conservation Strategies (Wildlife Actions Plans) than John Thiebes, National Wild Turkey Federation regional wildlife biologist for Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

“In the west, NWTF biologists are given a free hand in designing wildlife habitat projects that benefit a wide variety of species,” said Thiebes who has just completed a regional piece of the national turkey management plan.

In a strong show of support for state Wildlife Action Plans and in recognition of ecoregion connectivity, the national office of NWTF required regional biologists to use state plans when creating long-term habitat plans.

In Oregon, Thiebes decided to focus habitat work in two areas: oak woodlands in the Willamette Valley and pine/oak woodlands on the east slope of the Cascades.

“To conserve sensitive oak woodlands in the Valley, you have to work with private landowners,” he explained. “At first I was concerned about making those contacts, but with the help of ODFW’s Strategy team and the Yamhill Soil and Conservation District, I found a number of people interested in improving habitat.”

To date, Thiebes has completed four landowner habitat restoration plans in Yamhill County and one in Linn County. Projects will benefit oak woodlands and associated species including turkey, western gray squirrel, slender-billed nuthatch, acorn woodpecker and Kincaid's lupine.

What does he think of Oregon’s Conservation Strategy as a planning tool?

“It’s very user friendly. It’s easy to follow and does a great job of covering habitats and species. The reference material allows me to get more information for specific species and their habitats as I need it.”

Thiebes, who lives in southwest Oregon, retired from ODFW in 2002 after 30 years as a wildlife biologist and Watershed Manager in the Rogue Watershed. An avid angler and hunter, he hopes more Oregonians will follow the trend and become interested in turkey hunting and the outdoors.

For information about the National Wild Turkey Federation, visit their website.

E-mail John.


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


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