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OHA will restore Interstate Unit wildlife habitat

By Tyler Dungannon, Conservation Coordinator

State OHA is leading a new project
to restore mule deer habitat recently
impacted by wildfires in the Interstate
Unit. Over a half-million acres burned in
this unit in 2021, including the colossal
Bootleg Fire of more than 400,000 acres.
As a result, mule deer and other wildlife
are in need of habitat restoration.
Extensive acreage of two key plant
species, antelope bitterbrush and
mountain big sagebrush, burned in these
fires. Though they are a vital component
of these ecosystems, these plants are
tremendously slow to regenerate
naturally. However, planting and caging
seedlings will considerably expedite their
reestablishment.
This project is set to provide Adults in
Custody at Warner Creek Correctional
Facility sagebrush and bitterbrush seed
in Winter 2022, and those seeds will be
cleaned and sowed in spring 2022. In late
fall 2022, a strong force of volunteers and
OHA staff will plant and cage seedlings
into previously burned areas for the
benefit of wildlife. In 2022, we will plant
a minimum combined total of 14,000
sagebrush and bitterbrush plugs in critical
mule deer winter range identified by local
wildlife biologists.
If all goes according to plan, we will
duplicate our restoration effort and output
in 2023 within fire perimeters.
State OHA and OHA’s Klamath and
Lake County chapters each contributed
$3,000 to the project. OHA conservation
staff secured grant funding from project
partners as follows:
Conservation & Recreation Fund $23,000
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation $10,000
OHA $9,000
Pending – Mule Deer Foundation $5,000

Funds used for this project will benefit
the Warner Creek Correctional Facility’s
Sagebrush and Prisons Program to ensure
its longevity and increase its capacity to
assist in habitat restoration projects in
Oregon.

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