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Fringed bat
Fringed bat. Photo, Michael Durham.
On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

September 2009

By sharing our stories and successes with each other, we will find new ways to speak up for fish, wildlife and their habitats that resonate with all Oregonians.


Sharing the Road with Wildlife
New Online Registry Helps Track Conservation Projects
Focus: Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District
Bat Workshop Slated for November
Wildlife Viewing on Facebook
One Small Thing

Hwy 101
The Oregon wildlife movement work group met in Lincoln City to tour an area where a resident elk herd regularly crosses Hwy. 101 to forage.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

In a first-of-its kind effort in the state, the Oregon Department of Transportation and ODFW have mapped wildlife linkages and collision hotspots on state highways and made the information available online in a GIS database.

“We encourage interested groups to know the wildlife crossing hotspots in their areas and to consider the options available to keep wildlife and people safe,” said Mindy Trask, ODOT co-chair for the Oregon Wildlife Movement Strategy.

Tools to provide safe passage for wildlife include road signs, animal detection systems, fencing, wildlife crossing structures and public education. Crossing structures have a long lead time, of course, and have to be planned and funded. A good example of this type of project is Highway 97 just south of Bend where a road expansion project has made it possible to incorporate two wildlife underpasses.

Recently, the Oregon Wildlife Movement work group met in Lincoln City to tour one of the most visible and potentially dangerous wildlife crossing problems along US 101. Here, a resident elk herd regularly crosses the highway to forage.

“This is an urban-transition area, and the highway is windy with many access points, making it very difficult to manage wildlife crossings,” said Trask. “We are hopeful a citizen advisory group can help with public outreach and education. Because of the complexity of this situation, it’s going to take a collaborative effort.”

A step-down project from the Oregon Conservation Strategy, the Wildlife Movement group is initially focusing on highway crossings for mammals, reptiles and amphibians. For more information: Pacific Northwest Wildlife Connections Workshop presentations; New deer crossing slated for Hwy. 97 near Bend; Wildlife connectivity; Oregon Wildlife Linkage Areas.

registry map
A map as viewed in the Conservation Registry shows a section of Columbia County. Green balloons indicate projects underway in Conservation Opportunity Areas.
Click to enlarge

When you are trying to help native frogs or restoring grasslands or enabling fish passage to spawning grounds, do you ever wonder who else is working in your area and what they are doing? Do you know the places in your watershed where no work is being done? Do you know the conservation recommendations for the area you are working in? How do you share your progress with others?

“Communication between conservationists is becoming more important, not less,” said Sara Vickerman, director of Defenders of Wildlife’s Northwest office. “Despite all the e-mails and newsletters and meetings, there is just too much information for individuals to assimilate and use That’s why we developed the Conservation Registry. It gives people a common place to go to enter their projects and find out what other people are doing.”

The Registry, which was born of a desire to capture the work being done in support of the Oregon Conservation Strategy and other state’s wildlife action plans, recently went live, with an emphasis on projects in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Currently, in Oregon’s site there are 383 projects covering 845 locations. Plans are underway to add another 11,000 projects from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board’s database.

Cathy Nowak, ODFW wildlife biologist, used the Registry to enter the secretive marsh bird survey project she completed this year with the help of an Oregon Conservation Strategy implementation grant, and found it relatively easy to do.

Arizona Pond
Arizona Pond, Curry County, Oregon: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and ODFW worked together to improve Arizona Pond and an overflow channel that will provide school age children and their families a place to learn about fishing, wildlife and watershed restoration.

 “As the Registry gets more populated with data, it will be a great resource,” she said. “When I get ready to monitor for beaver, I am going to want to know who else is doing it, what success they are having and how to get in touch with them.”

Projects in the database are literally all over the map. Recent additions include Thompson’s Mills Dike Repair, Linn County, Oregon Parks & Recreation; Survey, Mapping and Monitoring of Columbia Spotted Frogs in Northeast Oregon, Union County, Blue Mountains Conservancy and Wallowa Land Trust; Whiteson Bridge Replacement, Yamhill County, Oregon Department of Transportation; McQueen Preserve, Lincoln County, The Wetlands Conservancy; and Delta Ponds Turtle Habitat Enhancement, Lane County, City of Eugene.

The best way to understand how the Registry can help you and fellow conservationists is to visit the website and look around. You can browse the projects and maps, then create an account or sign in and let Oregonians know what your program is doing and where.

ODFW and many other partners helped with the development of the Registry. Access the Oregon Conservation Portal website. Contact Kassandra Kelly with questions, (503) 697-3222.

Conservationist Luca De Stefanis of the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District is concerned with connections—habitat connections, planning connections and community connections.   

”In Marion County, we have to work inside the urban growth boundary as well as in the agricultural and rural areas. If we don’t have stream corridors and wildlife corridors, we don’t have a healthy watershed or viable fish and wildlife populations,” said De Stefanis.

The Baker City Fladry Project uses fladry corrals to protect a band of sheep and reduce conflict between livestock and wolves. Partners include local sheep producers, US Fish and Wildlife Services and ODFW. Photo, Jesse Timberlake, Defenders of Wildlife.

Marion County is located in the heart of the Willamette Valley where population is expected to double by 2050, putting tremendous pressure on the area’s natural resources. With 20 cities and more than 230 agricultural crops, land management will be key to the county’s future economic and environmental success.

“I remain optimistic," says De Stefanis of the challenges. “While it’s often difficult to get projects on the ground, we have an opportunity to create a balanced future. But, it depends on the actions we take today.”

To help focus conservation actions and connect them to larger actions, the SWCD gives funding preference to projects that address priorities in the Conservation Strategy.

“The Strategy is very strong. It allows you to be more efficient and effective—it helps identify priorities and get to work. It tailors up to national documents and links species to habitats,” said De Stefanis. “We also use DEQ priorities and other ODFW habitat documents to inform projects.”

Currently, the SWCD is working with landowners on a number of projects including riparian restoration and riparian and upland reserves. On an 80-acre family farm in Salem, they are helping to restore 24-acres of prairie and grasslands.

“We’ve lost more than 98 percent of our native grasslands in the Valley, and while we are not often able to recreate large amounts of it in its native form, it is possible to convert uncultivated areas into habitats with structure and composition that function more like grasslands and benefit water and wildlife.”

For more information about Marion Soil and Water Conservation District, visit their website.  

Luca De Stefanis
Luca De Stefanis, Marion County SWCD, works with landowners in the Willamette Valley to implement conservation priorities on the landscape.

Join a day-long workshop on Tues. Nov. 3 at the Oregon Zoo and learn how to help Oregon’s bats which are facing a variety of threats. Registration materials are available on the Oregon Zoo website. Sponsors include ODFW, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. To learn more, visit the Oregon Zoo website.

If you are a fan of Oregon Wildlife Viewing, you know it’s time to say good-bye to the summer hummers that are headed south for the winter. You also know you may still catch a glimpse of one of our native turtles out basking on these last hot days of the year. If you’re not a Facebook member, you can view the page here: Oregon Wildlife Viewing

Enter one of your projects in the Conservation Registry. What are you waiting for? Here’s the full url, http://or.conservationregistry.org/

On the Ground newsletter archives

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.

Western Pond Turtle
Western pond turtle basking. Photo Al St. John.

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

Contact Meg Kenagy

For strategy information
Contact Michael Pope

For a copy of the Strategy
Contact Karen Buell at ODFW.

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