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Pacific Hooker crew
The crew of the trawler Pacific Hooker, uses grapples to bring up derelict gear. Recovered gear is returned to its owner, if identifiable, or recycled.
Photo courtesy of ODFW
On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

November 2009

The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not …To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

Round River: from the journals of Aldo Leopold


Marine debris removed and recycled
Oregon western snowy plover numbers are up
Wetlands in the City
One Small Thing

FW Kilchis
The FV Kilchis, a crabbing vessel out of Garibaldi, tows side-scan sonar gear used to locate lost crab pots.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

Marine debris removed and recycled

When field work on a federal stimulus marine habitat restoration project ended in November, 1,367 derelict crab pots and 3.8 metric tons of line, cable and buoys had been recovered from Oregon’s nearshore ocean. Fueled by a NOAA grant and managed by ODFW, eight contracted fishing vessels put in a total of 81 days at sea to reclaim pots and fishing gear that was lost or abandoned as a result of winter storms, currents, entanglement or encounters with other vessels.

Debris removal benefits both the marine environment and fishermen. According to Brandon Ford, ODFW public information officer, “Lost crab gear causes headaches for fishermen when the pots get snagged by salmon trolling gear or entangled in trawl nets.” The debris also degrades marine habitats, and can injure or kill birds, marine mammals and fish.

The derelict gear recovery project, officially called the Oregon Fishing Industry Partnership to Restore Marine Habitat, is funded with monies received by ODFW from NOAA under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. As an in-kind donation, the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission mounted a volunteer effort, Operation CRABPOT (Clearing Refuse and Building a Pristine Ocean for Tomorrow). Under that effort, seven vessels and crews from Astoria, Winchester Bay, Charleston and Brookings participated in debris removal for a week in September, bringing in a total of 40 lost pots. It is hoped Operation CRABPOT will become an annual fleet-wide event. Volunteers were paid a stipend to cover fuel costs through a donation from the Department of State Lands.

Debris removal work is in keeping with goals of the Nearshore Strategy, the marine component of the Oregon Conservation Strategy, which identifies the negative impacts that derelict fishing gear can have on important marine habitats, such as rocky reefs and soft bottom habitats and marine life. For more information on the Nearshore Strategy, visit the ODFW website

Western Snowy Plover
The western snowy plover is a small shorebird, about 6 inches long, whose native habitat is open dry-sand beaches.
Photo courtesy of BLM

Oregon Western Snowy Plover numbers are up

The Pacific coast population of the western snowy plover, a small shorebird which is listed as threatened under both federal and state Endangered Species Acts, appears to be responding to recovery efforts in Oregon. Results from this year’s field survey indicate that as many as 201-208 individual birds were recorded along the state’s beaches between April and September, the highest number detected since monitoring began in 1990 when biologists estimated there were only 50 adult plovers in the same area.

“This year’s data is encouraging. It looks like the work we’ve been doing with habitat and predator management is helping,” said Dave Lauten, wildlife biologist, Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University. “A lot of the thanks has to go to beach visitors who help out by observing signs and leashing their dogs to give plovers space to successfully nest and rear their young.”

While the survey found 236 nests, the highest number since the surveys began, overall nest success was relatively poor― only 33 percent, 78 nests, hatched at least one chick. However, of the 78 nests, 193 eggs hatched and of those 96 fledged, resulting in 50 percent fledgling success. An additional 10 fledglings were counted that had hatched from nests not found by researchers, bringing the total number of fledglings to 106.

Snowy Plover eggs
The species breeds above the high tide line on coastal beaches, sand spits and sparsely-vegetated dunes.
Photo courtesy of BLM

“We are very pleased with the 50 percent fledgling success. This is only the fourth time that we have surpassed 100 fledglings in a year,” said Lauten.

An Oregon and Washington interagency team including staff from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Park and Recreation District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ODFW and Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center has worked for the recovery of the species since the early 1990s. The recovery goal is 250 breeding snowy plovers with an average of one fledged chick per male along the Oregon and Washington coasts. For more information, visit the Institute for atural Resources website.

The western snowy plover is identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as a species in need of conservation help. For more information, see the Coast Range ecoregion section of the Strategy on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.

Wetlands in the City

Restoring wetlands in urban areas is a challenge Jennifer Wilson, urban land steward for The Wetland Conservancy, knows well.

“Wetlands bring a lot of value to a city that most people never realize. They can reduce flooding by absorbing excess rain water and runoff and clean and filter water while providing much-needed refuge for wildlife,” said Wilson. “But, restoration and rehabilitation of urban wetlands offers its own unique challenges and obstacles.”

Red Fox
Invasive beachgrass destroys native habitat and creates places for predators to hide.
Photo courtesy of BLM

One of the urban projects Wilson is working on is Hedges Creek Marsh. Located in downtown Tualatin, the wetland is bordered by industrial and commercial developments. The good news is that despite its constraints, at 58 acres, it is big enough to make a difference to wildlife and the city.

Restoration of the marsh has been underway for two years and will continue for a while longer. To date, the Conservancy has removed invasive reed canarygrass, ivy and blackberry and replanted with native dogwood, willow, ash, snowberry and pine. This fall, with on-going funding from the Oregon Department of State Lands, Clean Water Services and the City of Tualatin―and new funding from an Oregon Conservation Strategy Implementation grant―work will begin on an additional five acres.

Volunteers from the community, REI and adjacent businesses help with restoration and maintenance of the marsh.

“Our corps of volunteers not only gets the work done, they soon become advocates for urban wetlands and the unique role Hedges Creek plays in the city of Tualatin,” said Wilson.

A plethora of wildlife use the marsh: ducks, geese, songbirds, owls, hawks, great blue herons, deer, coyote, fox, river otter and beaver. Viewing access is available from the Tualatin Post Office and there is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the marsh behind the Hedges Green Shopping Center.  

Jennifer Wilson
Jennifer Wilson at a work party at Hedges Creek Marsh to remove toxic tansy ragwort.
Photo courtesy of The Wetlands Conservancy

Wetlands are a Conservation Strategy habitat in all eight ecore­gions (pdf). The Wetland Conservancy promotes community and private partnerships to permanently conserve Oregon’s wetlands. Visit their website.

Event: Hedges Creek Marsh Wetland Restoration

The Wetlands Conservancy is hosting a wetland restoration work party at the Hedges Creek Marsh, Tualatin, on Dec. 12 from 9 a. m. to noon. Volunteers will assist in the harvesting and installing of native willow and dogwood  in support of waterfowl and other wildlife that live in the marsh. Contact: Jennifer Wilson, jennifers@wetlandsconservancy.org or call 503-957-6980. For more information.


Give the kids on your holiday list a gift that will inspire them to get outdoors and explore. A compass, a flashlight, a fishing license, a pair of binoculars, a local birding book, a membership to the Oregon Zoo, a bird feeder kit, hiking boots, a tent, a coupon for a weekend camping trip―the possibilities are endless.


On the Ground newsletter archives

Hedges Creek Marsh
Volunteers help with restoration and maintenance of Hedges Creek Marsh, an important wetland in downtown Tualatin.
Photo courtesy of The Wetlands Conservancy


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.


Meg Kenagy
Oregon Conservation Strategy Communications coordinator
(503) 947-6021

For a copy of the Strategy

Contact Karen Buell at ODFW.

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