Private forestland owners recognized for fish and wildlife stewardship (Photo)
SALEM, Ore.— The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Board of Forestry will recognize several forest landowners with the Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award for Forest Lands award during an online ceremony Friday, April 22.
The ceremony will include awards from 2019 which were never formally awarded due to the pandemic; note 2020 awards were cancelled due to the pandemic.
The award winners are:
Northwest Oregon Region
2019 Non-Industrial Forest Landowner: David Bugni, Estacada
2021 Non-Industrial Forest Landowner: Reid and Regina Ligon, Eugene
2019 Industrial Forest Landowner: Lewis and Clark Timberlands, managed by Nuveen Natural Capital, Seaside
2021 Industrial Forest Landowner: Port Blakely, Molalla
Southwest Oregon Region
2019 Industrial Forest Landowner: Manulife Investment Management, Medford
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife did not receive nominations for other categories, including one for Eastern Oregon region landowners.
The Fish and Wildlife Steward Award program acknowledges the outstanding stewardship work that landowners are doing for forests, fish and wildlife on their property.
About the winners:
David Bugni, Estacada
Small woodland owner Dave Bugni has partnered with ODFW on multiple stream-restoration projects on his property and adjacent properties near Eagle Creek over the last decade. Projects have benefited threatened and endangered coho salmon, winter steelhead and spring chinook, as well as cutthroat trout, lamprey species and various resident fish and other wildlife. For example, Bugni worked to place large wood back in multiple sections of Suter Creek, a tributary to the North Fork of Eagle Creek in the Clackamas basin, in an area where it flows through his property. Bugni also removed an undersized culvert under a county road through his property and not only managed the removal but designed the bridge himself. Thanks to his work, there is now completely unobstructed fish passage from the North Fork of Eagle Creek upstream to Suter Creek.
Besides sustainably managing his property, Bugni has spearheaded development of the 1,400-acre Eagle Creek Community Forest. Bugni and ODFW are also developing a plan on the North Fork of Eagle Creek for what could be one of the longest restoration project reaches to date within the basin.
ODFW Fish Habitat Specialist Dave Stewart says, “David has brought in adjacent landowners, large industrial landowners, utilities and other local groups to collaborate on the restoration. His forest and projects are used by forest professionals and small woodland groups as examples of what to strive for in a healthy and sustainable forest.”
Reid and Regina Ligon, Eugene
The Ligons contributed their property for an OSU pollinator habitat enhancement pilot program. Through their labor (including brush clearing and establishing and maintaining pollinator plants) and at their own cost, the Ligons created habitat for the over 500 species of native bees found in Oregon, many of which reside in forests that serve as reservoirs and habitat corridors. Creating this habitat also enhanced the ecosystem service resource that bees (and other insects) provide as pollinators of many native forbs, shrubs and hardwood trees. The Ligons also hosted sampling events to collect more bee-plant visitation data for the Oregon Bee Atlas, which will contribute to development of better guidance and tested seed lists for enhancing pollinator habitat in their eco-region.
ODF Forest Entomologist Christine Buhl said “Pollinator enhancement may be nothing new in agricultural and urban settings, but it is novel to forestry and these projects are some of the first in the nation that provide templates for various types of forest landowners.”
Lewis and Clark Timberlands, managed by Nuveen Natural Capital, Seaside
Lewis and Clark Timberlands (LCTL) has been an active steward of their lands for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources on the north coast since their operations began in Clatsop County in 2009. The company has gone above and beyond habitat protection measures required under the Forest Practices Act with multiple fish-passage and instream habitat restoration projects; forest road removal near streams; riparian enhancement, creation of snags for wildlife shelter and food, and garbage cleanup.
ODF Tillamook Acting District Forester Ed Wallmark commends LCTL for continuing to provide no-fee recreational access to 157,950 acres of their land in Tillamook and Clatsop counties, allowing hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing. They are also an active member of the North Coast Access Area Law Enforcement Project (Travel Management Area), administered through ODFW’s Access and Habitat Program. This program helps regulate vehicle use on walk-in only roads during hunting seasons.
Wallmark said LCTL regularly provides community tours of their timberlands. Recently, this has included tours for Clatsop County Community Leaders, local sixth-grade students, middle-school students from Boston on GIS and logging, and others.
“They have a really good online system where the public can register for a free access permit,” said Wallmark. “It is encouraging to see a large private landowner providing great recreational opportunities on their land to the general public.”
They have also been an essential cooperator on ODFW’s Necanicum River Winter Steelhead Evaluation Project, allowing ODFW access to all their lands to conduct fish presence and spawning surveys. They have also let ODFW release smolts and operate a weir and fish trap on their property at Volmer Creek. They are also working with a local mountain bike organization and other groups on the new Klootchie trail system.
“LCTL have demonstrated a strong stewardship ethic through their willingness to collaborate with ODFW and other partners on numerous stream habitat restoration and fish-passage projects over the last 10 years,” said ODFW Watershed Manager Chris Knutsen. “They are also strong community partners and are appreciated by local groups and by the outdoor recreationists who are able to access LCTL properties.”
Port Blakely, Molalla
Port Blakely is working to provide enhanced protections for water quality and wildlife habitat on 30,000 acres of its forestland in Clackamas County under a voluntary stewardship agreement with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). Under this stewardship agreement, Port Blakely is following an ODF-approved forest management plan that exceeds currently existing Forest Practices Act requirements in exchange for long-term regulatory certainty for 50 years. In parallel to the stewardship agreement, Port Blakely is also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service on a complementary Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The stewardship agreement and HCP contain forest management and conservation measures that provide enhanced protection for fish-bearing streams and aquatic water bodies, as well as creating and sustaining a mosaic of diverse habitats to meet the needs of many fish and wildlife species, including threatened and endangered species.
The historic 2020 Labor Day fires in northwest Oregon burned 8,000 acres of Port Blakely’s timberlands in east Clackamas County, including 700 acres of riparian buffers along streams. To restore this important habitat and limit erosion and invasive species, Port Blakely took steps to quickly restore habitat by dropping about 6,000 pounds of native seed along 24 river miles of riparian area during an aerial seeding operation —accelerating natural recovery of native plants and trees and reducing the likelihood of invasive species getting a foothold. Besides providing forage for deer and elk, the new habitat created by this project will also benefit pollinators like bees, and quickly provides shade to keep river temperatures cooler which is critical for salmon and steelhead.
The Pioneer Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association and ODFW chipped in with some funding to assist in purchasing native seeds for the project, which was critical for fish and wildlife in the area.
See a video about this project at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN45NksU0J8
Manulife Investment Management (formerly Hancock Timber Resource Group, Medford
In southern Oregon, Manulife Investment Management last year installed bridges in two locations to replace culverts that hindered or blocked fish passage on their property in Josephine County.
The first bridge was installed over Holton Creek, a stream that provides habitat for winter steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout.
“The bridge replaced an old, rotted undersized culvert which blocked fish at different times of the year depending on stream flow. By replacing the culvert with a bridge, almost a mile of habitat was opened up for fish use,” said ODFW Biologist Peter Samarin.
The second bridge was built over Trapper Gulch, a stream that provides habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed Coho salmon and winter steelhead, as well as resident coastal cutthroat trout. The bridge replaced three parallel culverts that were undersized and prone to overflowing. The culverts blocked upstream juvenile fish passage for the majority of the year, and adult passage at high flow.
“Trapper Gulch is an important fish-bearing tributary to Elk Creek and the bridge will allow fish to access an additional 2.5 miles of habitat,” said Samarin.
A significant amount of gravel and cobble that had accumulated behind the existing crossing will now also be free to migrate further down Trapper Gulch and into Elk Creek, enhancing spawning grounds for fish, Samarin added.
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