Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Improvements on the Way for Oregon Elk Habitat

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2015 grants for the state of Oregon. Find more information here.

Crook County—Thin juniper on 450 acres and burn 767 acres that were thinned in 2014 to promote native grasses and enhance the bitterbrush and sagebrush steppe habitat on elk, mule deer and pronghorn winter range as well as greater sage-grouse habitat on the Ochoco National Forest (also affects Grant County).

Douglas County—Create eight acres of forage openings and maintain an additional 34 acres of forage openings to help address declining Roosevelt elk populations in southwestern Oregon that will also assist black-tailed deer, black bear, ruffed grouse as well as other birds and mammals on the Umpqua National Forest.

Grant County—Treat 450 acres of weed infestations across a 13,000 acre landscape that includes crucial winter range to complement an ongoing program of spring development, forage openings, fuels reduction and wet meadow protection on private land that allows public hunting adjacent to the Bridge Creek Wildlife Management Area; spray 11,000 acres and drill seed 4,200 acres on the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands which burned in a 2014 wildfire; and thin 100 acres of overstocked lodgepole pine stands to improve forage on summer range with high elk use southeast of Fish Lake on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Harney County—Rehabilitate and protect a rare, 40-acre wet meadow along Alder Creek in the Stinkingwater Mountains by constructing a series of engineered check dams and fill to stabilize and rehab the stream channel. In addition, a 110-acre exclosure will be built to keep livestock out of the meadow. The nearest wetland of this size and type is located more than 41 air miles away.

Jackson County—Apply prescribed underburning to 425 acres on the western slope of the southern Cascade Mountains in a recently commercially thinned area to jumpstart early seral recruitment in order to increase forage quality and quantity for elk on yearlong habitat on the Rogue River National Forest. The project will also reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire within the municipal watershed for Medford which provides clean water to approximately 80,000 residents in the Rogue Valley.

Lake County—Thin 800 acres within aspen stands in a larger project area to reduce conifers and improve habitat on elk summer range and calving areas within the South Warner Mountains on the Fremont-Winema National Forest; restore 178 acres of meadow, aspen and riparian habitat by utilizing prescribed fire to improve grass and herbaceous forage and increase vigor and recruitment of aspen within the Coyote Creek area on the Freemont National Forest (also affects Klamath County); and thin encroaching conifers and junipers from 1,155 acres in the Middle Drews Creek and Lower Hay Creek subwatersheds in the Drews Creek Watershed on the Fremont National Forest to assist aspen stands affected by decades of fire suppression.

Lane County—Improve 209 acres of elk habitat in the Foley Ridge area on the Willamette National Forest through a combination of herbicide treatments, conifer thinning, seeding and prescribed burning; burn 100 acres and thin 200 additional acres on the Middle Fork Ranger District to restore over-stocked pine plantations back to historic open pine savannah to improve forage quality and quantity for Roosevelt elk and deer; and continue a forage enhancement project involving prescribed fire, seeding, noxious weed treatment and cutting back browse to encourage sprouting on the Willamette National Forest adjacent to private land and the Tokatee Golf Course to lure elk and deer off private land.

Linn County—Enhance subalpine meadows being encroached by conifers due to a lack of fire by using tree felling, tree girdling, browse cutback and seed collection across 300 acres to benefit two meadows that serve as elk and black-tailed deer migration corridors on the Willamette National Forest. More than 200 species of flowering plants, including sensitive plant species, are found here as well as a large diversity of butterflies and other pollinators.

Tillamook County—Clear non-native and encroaching vegetation on 135 acres of meadows scattered across the Hebo Ranger District of the Siuslaw National Forest to improve forage for Roosevelt elk and other meadow dependent species (also affects Lincoln and Yamhill Counties).

Union County—Treat noxious weeds on 622 acres of elk winter range and calving areas on private land protected by an RMEF conservation easement adjacent to the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Management Area; install boulder blockades and update two gates to reinforce road closures that were enacted 25 years ago to provide secure habitat within an area critical to maintaining population objectives and bull-cow ratios in the Horseshoe Prairie area on the Umatilla National Forest. In addition, roadbeds will be seeded to maintain a forage base as part of a project to benefit approximately 2,700 acres of forest habitat that is a mix of spring and critical summer habitat; and thin 400 acres to reduce the density of young conifer trees to increase forage availability for elk on public lands in the Blue Mountain’s Ladd Canyon area on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Wallowa County—Apply low intensity burning on 500 acres within the Chesnimnus Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The project is part of 10-year burn program creating a mosaic of habitat across 12,751 acres of elk transition and critical summer range where calf recruitment is poor and the distribution of elk across seasonal ranges is very poor; and treat 150 acres of noxious weeds on the Umatilla National forest and private lands in the Wenaha River watershed through the Wallowa Canyonlands Partnership to improve forage on crucial winter and summer range (also affects Asotin, Columbia and Garfield Counties in Washington).

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities.

Partners for the Oregon projects include the Fremont-Winema, Ochoco, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Umatilla, Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman and Willamette National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic, tribal and government organizations.

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