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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
Thousands of acres of National Wildlife Refuge wetlands in the Klamath Basin will go without water this year. All signs are pointing to an unprecedented disaster.
by Wendell Wood
Sadly, 2013 will see a repeat of one of the most devastating symptoms of the Klamath Basin's numerous water problems: thousands of acres of crucial National Wildlife Refuge wetlands in the Klamath will be without water.
Unfortunately, this sad state of affairs reflects the norm in the Klamath Basin, where too much water has been promised to too many interests. Even in years of abundant water flow, this annual refuge de-watering represents the continuation of a policy of favoring agribusiness interests while avoiding cost-effective, long-term solutions which would bring water demand in the basin into balance with actual supplies.
The continued sacrifice of our nation's wildlife refuges in the Klamath doesn't come without serious consequences. Refuge wetlands support 80 percent of the migratory waterfowl of the Pacific Flyway, hosting birds traveling from as far away as the Arctic and Argentina.
You know the story of Journey and how he became the world's most famous wolf. Now get ready to meet Journey's brothers and sisters.
Many thanks to an anonymous source who compiled and shared these photographs and information.
Fans and followers of Oregon Wild's wildlife conservation efforts know Journey was the name bestowed upon OR-7 last year as the result of Oregon Wild's naming contest for the world's most famous wolf.
And while the Journey moniker has been absolutely apropo for the wandering lone wolf of the Imnaha pack, and has lent the issue of wolf recovery some additional charisma, notoriety, and celebrity voltage as a result, it shouldn't come at the expense of Journey's Canis lupus brothers and sisters with less memorable names, but no less memorable faces.
So, for a round-up of all our radio-collared Oregon wolves, here are the faces we're fighting for every day at Oregon Wild.
On just how far we haven't come.
By Rob Klavins
The corridors of Oregon's capital building are filled with history.
Tom McCall's portrait is a Technicolor reminder of the beach bill – the landmark law which made our beaches open to all. There's an exhibit of amazing rocks and minerals found in Oregon. The offices of elected officials are themselves display cases of Oregon treasures past and present.
In a corridor leading to Senate offices are a number of educational displays highlighting the history of the Beaver State. The last in line is a real attention grabber.
The display features the preserved head and skin of a cougar. The text behind the cougar tells the creation story of Oregon's government. The most prominent words are the title "Wolf Meetings, Genesis of Government" and a quote:
"It is admitted by all, that bears, wolves, panthers, etc., are destructive to useful animals owned by the settlers of this colony…"
Minister of the Public Meeting, March 1843, French Prairie.
The text goes on to describe how – in a surprisingly narrow decision - 52 white men voted to form a government, organize a militia, and set the course for what would become the state of Oregon.
It's a course that has led Oregon to become known around the world as one of America's greenest, most progressive states. Sadly, my next stop was a disturbing reminder of how – at least when it comes to wildlife - some things haven't changed.
Oregon Wild's testimony at a Senate informational hearing on wolves.
The Oregon Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held an informational hearing on wolves in Oregon today. After receiving testimony from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the livestock industry, Oregon Wild delivered this message on behalf of conservation-minded Oregonians.
We gave our testimony alongside two other conservation organizations working to ensure wolf recovery in Oregon - Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity.
While there were certainly differences of opinions amongst the stakeholders at the hearing, there was a welcome change in tone from previous hearings that focused on divisiveness and (often manufactured) controversy.
Conservation is a widely held public value. So why is it suddenly controversial?
By Wildlife Advocate Rob Klavins
I am – quite literally – a card-carrying wildlife advocate. Though not everyone is as big a wildlife geek as I, I'm comfortable knowing I stand with the vast majority of Americans in valuing native wildlife.
I'm lucky to spend my days working to protect the wildlands, wildlife, and waters that play an irreplaceable role in maintaining our quality of life.
I just wish part of my job wasn't necessary.
Klamath-area National Wildlife Refuges are being forced to drain massive amounts of water, while nothing is being asked of industrial irrigators.
By Wendell Wood
It has come to our attention Lower Klamath and Tule Lake NWRs are being required to deliver 5,600 acre feet of water from the refuge to the Klamath River. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) maintains this is being done so the agency won't have to otherwise release additional water from Upper Klamath Lake.
While the BOR claims it needs to do so to maintain Upper Klamath lake levels for endangered species purposes, it is also doing so for the principal purpose of "recharging" the lake to its maximum elevation prior to the onset of the 2013 irrigation season.
Recent media reports on wolves continue to lack context. They also tend to lack basic math.
I'm a big fan of public radio.
When I want to hear one-sided grandstanding I go to MSNBC, Fox News, or Comedy Central. If I want weather and videos of water-skiing squirrels I watch local TV.
When I want information and intelligent discussion I tune in to NPR and PBS. That's why I was so disappointed by recent coverage of what should have been a great wolf news story.
With an ongoing campaign of misinformation and fear targeting wolves, we've said over and over again how important it is to put numbers in context (here). Not doing so inflames anti-wolf hysteria and has serious consequences.
When it comes to recent wolf news here are some important basic mathematical truths:
A year ago, Oregon's most famous wolves blazed a historic trail. Now the state stands at a crossroads.
In 1999, a wolf known as B-45 swam the Snake River and became the first confirmed wolf in Oregon in over half a century. Panicked wildlife agencies quickly decided to tranquilize the animal and send her back to Idaho by helicopter.
With a little help from the public, the state agency charged with conserving wildlife (ODFW – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) took a deep breath and charted a new course forward. That change allowed a very different story to take place exactly one year ago.
Guest blogger, scientist, and Oregon Wild supporter Ivan Phillipsen explores the natural wonders of Washington and Oregon.
Deciduous trees and shrubs in the Northwest shed their leaves by early December. At this time of year, our low-elevation forests are looking much more twiggy and less leafy than they do in the summer. But there is still plenty of green – the Douglas firs, Western hemlocks, and other conifers keep their foliage year round.
But the real stars of the forest during the dark, wet months of winter are the mosses and evergreen ferns. This is as good a season as any to get familiar with these primitive, fascinating plants.
The unrivaled king of ferns on the west coast is the Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum). If a northwestern kid knows the name of only one fern, it's probably this one.
An Oregon native shares his experience with another – of the four-legged variety.
One of our most popular blog posts was the 2010 the re-telling of an encounter with wolves in Wallowa County. Since that time we've led several organized trips and heard from dozens of others from all over the country who headed out on their own to the wildlands of Northeast Oregon specifically to see wild wolves.
Though the suspension of Oregon's wolf killing program means wolf recovery is getting back on track in the Beaver State, the known population remains small, fragile, and confined to its Northeast corner.
Even in wolf country, very few folks have actually seen or even heard the wolves that make much more regular appearances in local headlines. So though few ever regret their trip(s) to some of Oregon's most spectacular landscapes, it's no surprise most folks don't see more than tracks or scat.
That's why it was so heartening to receive a report from Oregon Wild member Kelly Morgan, who saw wolves on the Zumwalt Prairie in Northeastern Oregon late last month. Here is a recounting of his story starting with his second day in search of wolves.