(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a land exchange in Grant County today that will provide easier public access to federal lands and better protect winter range for the Murderers Creek Unit mule deer herd.
The deal involves exchanging an isolated tract of property on the Phillip W Schneider Wildlife Area for private lands adjacent to the wildlife area that provide easier public access to neighboring BLM and USFS lands. With the Commission’s approval today, the exchange can proceed through the escrow process.
The Commission saw the winning artwork for the 2013 Oregon Upland Game Bird Art Contest. Sara Stack’s painting of chukar was chosen from among 16 total entries by a panel of judges that included Commissioner Holly Akenson. Stack wins $3,000 and her artwork will be the 2013-14 upland game bird stamp.
Stack, of North Bend, Ore. is a talented artist and active outdoorswoman who won Oregon’s first Habitat Conservation Stamp art contest last year for her painting of the western meadowlark. She also won the 2007 Minnesota Duck Stamp contest.
The Commission approved a fish passage priority list that includes 534 fish passage barriers in 16 different priority groups. Oregon state statute requires ODFW to complete and maintain a statewide inventory of fish passage barriers every five years, and to prioritize those barriers based on the needs of native fish. The last fish passage priority list was created in 2007. Fish passage barriers may be dams, road culverts, tide gates or other manmade structures that prevent native migratory fish from fully accessing a river or stream.
The Commission was also briefed on a similar priority list for unscreened diversions, such as irrigation ditches, that can harm native fish.
The Commission approved $327,738 in funding for 15 restoration and nine enhancement projects recommended by the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Board and $159,930 for three projects recommended by the Access and Habitat Board that open private land to hunting or improve wildlife habitat.
The Commission also heard a review of the status of each species listed under the Oregon Endangered Species Act, and an update on wolf populations in the state.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. It meets monthly. The next meeting is April 26 in Salem.