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Access and Habitat Program helps fund nine elk habitat improvement projects in Blue Mountains region

July 13, 2009


Brewer's Blackbird
The A&H grant will fund more cutting of juniper trees in the Murderers Creek Basin (Grant County), where junipers have encroached on bunch grass and other plants more beneficial to elk and other big game species. Photo taken April 2009 by Jim Yuskavitch, courtesy of ODFW.

LA GRANDE, Ore. —Over 13,000 acres of elk habitat improvements are now underway in Oregon’s Blue Mountains region.  

ODFW’s Access and Habitat Program has contributed $100,000 to the cost of these projects. Matching funds from more than 20 project cooperators will contribute nearly $2 million to improving 13,619 acres of elk habitat across nine projects in seven counties.

The projects are reviewed and facilitated through the Blue Mountains Elk Initiative and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation project review process.

“The extensive network of project cooperators is really the key to the success of this program,” said ODFW Access and Habitat Program Coordinator Matt Keenan.  “The matching federal and private funding that BMEI and RMEF have leveraged for these projects is unprecedented in the A&H Program”.

The 19-million-acre Blue Mountains region of Oregon and Washington harbors one of the world’s largest elk populations, estimated at more than 55,000 animals. 

“Elk are important to the Blue Mountains region—ecologically, economically and culturally,” said ODFW Wildlife Habitat Biologist Jon Paustian. “This year’s projects include a range of elk habitat improvements including weed control, juniper cutting, prescribed fire, native shrub planting, and water development.”

The projects are:

  • Control of rush skeleton weed in Hells Canyon (Baker and Wallowa counties)
  • Wildlife habitat improvement on Dow Ranches property (Crook County)
  • Juniper control to enhance big game habitat in Murderers Creek Basin (Grant County)
  • Wildlife habitat improvement on Kastor Ranch property (Crook County)
  • Continued noxious weed control along the North Fork John Day River (Umatilla, Grant, and Morrow counties)
  • Wildlife forage enhancement in Owsley Canyon (Union County)
  • Prescribed fire to improve habitat in Trail Creek/Stickes area (Baker County)
  • Noxious weed control in the Wallowa Canyonlands (Wallowa and Union counties)
  • Prescribed fire to improve wildlife habitat in Woodtick/Burnt River (Baker County)

The Blue Mountains Elk Initiative is a cooperative effort between federal, state, local, tribal and private agencies and organizations, including ODFW. The program addresses elk management issues in Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker, Grant, Morrow, Crook, Harney and Malheur counties. It was created in 1990 and is the first and largest elk initiative established in North America.

 Th A&H Program is funded by a $2 surcharge on hunting licenses. Funds raised by the program are distributed through grants to individual and corporate landowners, hunter organizations, and others for cooperative wildlife habitat improvement and hunter access projects throughout the state.

For information on the A&H Program call program staff at 503-947-6087 or visit the website at




Michelle Dennehy (503) 947-6022
Fax: (503) 947-6009

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