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On the Ground: The Oregon Conservation Strategy at Work

March 2010

March: Spring bird migrations have begun, frogs are singing, gray whales are passing by, song birds are courting and our summer hummers are headed home. Time to get outside and survey the landscape.


How to Help Wildlife in Prairie and Oak Habitats
Bend Park Manager Awarded for Improved Fish and Wildlife Habitat
Wolf Plan under Review
Fish Biologists Trap Feral Swine
Spring Speaker Series is Wild
One Small Thing

How to Help Wildlife in Prairie and Oak Habitats

Dave Vesely
Dave Vesely with a detection dog trained to find Kincaid's lupine, a threatened plant found mainly in the Willamette Valley.
-The Nature Conservancy photo-

Dave Vesely, executive director of the Oregon Wildlife Institute, reviews a lot of restoration project proposals for the Willamette Valley, and it didn’t take him long to realize what was missing from many of them.

“Most of the proposals include a suite of Strategy species that the authors believe will benefit from the project,” said Vesely, “but the habitat-wildlife associations are not usually well drawn, especially in grassland and oak habitats.”

Unfortunately, he soon discovered there was not a lot of research for conservationists to turn to, so in an attempt to remedy the situation he and Dan Rosenberg, OWI’s co-director and a faculty member in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University, undertook a research synthesis of key Valley habitats meant to help land managers more effectively help wildlife. 

The resultant report, Wildlife Conservation in the Willamette Valley's Remnant Prairie and Oak Habitats, is available now. It summarizes the findings of wildlife studies that were conducted in the Valley as well as relevant research from outside the area.

“We discuss information gaps and suggest future directions for research and conservation activities,” said Vesely. “We also prepared life history accounts and management recommendations for several species of particular concern in grassland and oak habitats.”  

The project was funded by a grant from the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service Interagency Special Status/Sensitive Species Program. The report and species accounts that include meadow lark, vesper sparrow, streaked horn lark, pond turtle and western gray squirrel are available on the Oregon Wildlife Institute’s website.

Bend Park Manager Awarded for Improved Fish and Wildlife Habitat

The wildfire that roared through Shevlin Park in Bend in 1990 created the impetus for change.

Large diameter logs were placed in Tumalo Creek in Shevlin Park in Bend to provide pool habitat for fish and other wildlife. ODFW photo.

“That fire got our undivided attention,” said Paul Stell, Natural Resource manager for the Bend Park and Recreation District. “We realized then, we had to adopt some new forest management practices.”

Since that time, Stell has done just that. Working with the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Deschutes National Forest, fish, wildlife and habitat biologists and others, park crews are creating a healthy and resilient forest using prescribed fire, mowing, thinning and replanting. The forest is being managed for uneven-aged tree stands and tree species diversity. Many snags support a variety of wildlife and thick stands of ponderosa pine have been thinned to encourage growth and remove fuels that contribute to wildfire.

Stell calls recent work along Tumalo Creek, which runs through the park, “one of the fun projects, something we do for fish and wildlife.” As part of the project, large diameter logs were placed in the stream to protect banks, narrow the creek channel and provide pool habitat for fish and other wildlife.

In February, Stell received a Forest Stewardship award from ODF and ODFW for his commitment to improve fish and wildlife habitat. The Forest Stewardship awards recognize those who work for the long-term conservation of Oregon's native species in step with the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds and the Oregon Conservation Strategy.

“I haven’t really done a whole lot,“ said Stell. “I just help make it happen.” 

Which, of course, is about everything.

Contact Paul, Paul@bendparksandrec.org

Wolf Conservation and Management Plan Under Review

Imnaha male wolf
ODFW biologist Russ Morgan with a 97-pound male wolf that was collared in February 2010. ODFW photo.

Gray wolves have been increasing for several years in Oregon, but it was not until July 2008 that pups were detected, confirming the first wolf breeding activity in Oregon in decades. Since that time, the state’s wolf population has grown slowly as wolves from Idaho expand their range.

Wolves are listed as endangered under the Oregon Endangered Species Act and managed by ODFW via the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan which was adopted in 2005. The plan, which calls for an evaluation of its effectiveness every five years, is currently in review. Through June, ODFW staff will work with stakeholder groups and interested public to receive input to the evaluation process. In August, the draft evaluation will be available and, in October, results of the evaluation will be presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Most wolf activity in the state is invisible as the animals stick to remote habitats in the northeast part of the state, but in April 2009, two animals raised the species profile when they killed a number of sheep on a ranch in Baker County. Despite the best efforts of the rancher, ODFW staff and partners, the wolves resisted deterrents and later returned to the same ranch, killing additional sheep.

“Unfortunately, these two wolves continued to depredate and in this case lethal control was the responsible management action,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW’s wolf coordinator. “We followed the plan we have in place which gave us an opportunity to evaluate the depredation response procedures.”

Morgan and team continue to work proactively to understand wolf behavior. In February 2010, they radio collared three wolves in the Wallowa County pack, including the alpha male, which is comprised of about ten wolves. For photos and video of wolves in Oregon, visit ODFW’s website.

Find more information and a copy of the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan on ODFW’s website. Send comments to odfw.comments@odfw.oregon.gov

Fish Biologists Trap Feral Swine

Feral Swine
Feral swine caught on trail camera in Trout Creek Basin, Central Oregon. ODFW photo.
Feral Swine
Rooting by feral swine destroys grass and vegetation; rain then washes topsoil straight into the stream. ODFW photo.

Tom Nelson first noticed evidence of feral pigs in the Trout Creek Basin in Central Oregon about a year and a half ago, and it wasn’t long before he saw the damage they can do when, very quickly, they rooted up a large area in and around restored riparian and upland habitat on private property.

“They can tear up a lot of ground in a very short time,” said Nelson, an ODFW fish biologist. “The rooting they do in search of food destroys grass and vegetation and can make a hillside look like it has been freshly plowed. Then, during the next rain event, the topsoil washes straight into the stream.” 

Surveying the damage, the unhappy landowner turned to Nelson for advice and an ODFW team helped trap four pigs last year and 12 this spring. Unfortunately, there are still more in the area.

Rick Boatner, ODFW invasive species coordinator, who helped establish rules for the new feral swine bill that was passed by the 2009 Legislature, worked with Nelson to set up a trail camera and traps.

“I was amazed at the photos we got off the trail cam,” said Boatner. “There are more pigs in there than we thought. Hopefully, we are going to be able to eradicate them from the area.”

Eradication from the state is the point of the new law which requires land managers to report and remove feral swine from their property and prohibits the sale of feral swine hunts. Under the rules, land managers have 10 days after discovering feral pigs on their property to contact ODFW and 60 days to work with their local biologist on a removal plan.

“It’s still possible to eradicate feral swine from Oregon,” said Boatner. “But we have to get on top of it now.”

For more information, visit the ODFW website or contact Keith Kohl, ODFW Terrestrial Invasive Species coordinator, keith.l.kohl@odfw.oregon.gov

Spring Speaker Series is Wild

Pat Matthews
ODFW wildlife biologist Pat Matthews will speak about his work on April 21 in Portland. ODFW photo

Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation is hosting three presentations by ODFW biologists about the state’s wildlife. The first hour-long presentation will be held Wednesday, April 21 at 7 p.m. in Portland. Biologists Russ Morgan and Pat Matthews will discuss Oregon’s populations of gray wolves and Shira’s moose. Subsequent events will cover greater-sage grouse, pronghorn, black bear and white-tail deer.

“People are really interested in how Oregon’s native wildlife are doing,” said Tim Greseth, OWHF executive director. “And, we’re really excited about the speakers we have lined up.”

All events will be held at the Ecotrust Building in Portland’s Pearl District. Admission is free, but registration is required.

The Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation champions projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat for access, education, and enjoyment by all. Since its founding, OWHF has directed millions of dollars in funding to fish, wildlife, and habitat projects throughout the state.


Arbor Day may be America's National Tree Holiday, but in Oregon the celebration lasts a full week in April. There are lots of opportunities to attend an event or plant a tree of your own. More information.  


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.


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

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