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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
KLAMATH FALLS FWO: Colestin Valley Oak Woodland Restoration: A Partnership Between NRCS and the USFWS Partners Program
Region 8, February 25, 2010
Nicola Giardina, Jackson County NRCS District Conservationist, measures a very large legacy California black oak in Colestin Valley, Jackson County Oregon. The Service is working with Giardina and local landowners to restore oak woodlands. Oak woodlands are the most important terrestrial wildlife habitat in the Pacific Northwest. (photo: Dave Ross, USFWS)
Nicola Giardina, Jackson County NRCS District Conservationist, measures a very large legacy California black oak in Colestin Valley, Jackson County Oregon. The Service is working with Giardina and local landowners to restore oak woodlands. Oak woodlands are the most important terrestrial wildlife habitat in the Pacific Northwest. (photo: Dave Ross, USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
A group of conservationists survey a landscape and begin developing a restoration plan for a private landowner in Oregon's Colstein Valley, which lies within the Klamath River watershed. (photo by Dave Ross, USFWS) 
A group of conservationists survey a landscape and begin developing a restoration plan for a private landowner in Oregon's Colstein Valley, which lies within the Klamath River watershed. (photo by Dave Ross, USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a

by Dave Ross, Klamath Falls FWO
Oregon oak woodlands have declined over 90 percent due to expansion of subdivisions and urbanization as well as agriculture use. 

Why is such a change important? 

Oak woodlands are the most important terrestrial wildlife habitat in the Pacific Northwest.  Oak woodlands harbor sensitive and endangered species such as Genter’s fritillary and northern spotted owl. 

They are crucial for cavity nesting birds and several species of birds of management concern, including Lewis’ woodpecker and the olive-sided flycatcher.   Species like acorn woodpeckers and oak titmouse are totally dependent upon oak woodlands.

Because of the importance of oak woodlands to Oregon’s wildlife, the Partners Program in the Klamath Falls FWO has teamed up with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Jackson County to restore oaks woodlands in Colestin Valley.

This valley is located in the Klamath River watershed and has been identified as a focus area in the Oregon Conservation Strategy, a document written by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Initially, the Service has started working with three landowners in restoring oak woodlands and savanna habitats by thinning and removing encroaching conifers. 

The Colstein valley is home to the endangered plant, Gentner’s fritillary.  This plant is closely linked to oak woodlands; however, woodlands that have dense canopies and have been encroached upon by conifers tend to have less light reaching the woodland floor. 

This environmental change has affected the populations of this rare plant.  The restoration work with private landowners has enabled restoration to move forward and benefit a host of species that are associated with oak woodlands, truly a multi-species approach.  The restoration ball is rolling!

Because of the positive attitudes and partnerships that developed early on, other partners have since joined.  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has offered the use of their equipment including a range drill and roller to reseed the oak savanna habitats to native bunchgrasses including blue wild rye and California oatgrass. 

Because of historic grazing practices, the native grass component was lost and noxious weeds primarily medusahead and yellow star thistle displaced the native bunchgrasses on the open ground.  

These exotic plants affect habitat for native wildlife and increase soil erosion.  The Bureau of Land Management and Jackson County Soil and Water District offered their technical assistance in restablishing the native plant community.   The District also may provide the funds to offset some of the landowner’s costs.  

Because of the high costs of some restoration projects, it is very important to develop partnerships to obtain funding from several sources so the costs are more bearable.

One of the landowners is so excited about the prospects of restoring his oak woodlands, he has offered to grow out the endangered frillary in his personal greenhouse so young plants would be available to out-plant on his property! 

This level of participation is encouraging and is indicative of the value of oak woodlands to private landowners in the Pacific Northwest. 

By the way, do you know what the national tree of the United States is?

 If you guessed the oak, you are correct!

Contact Info: Matt Baun, 530-842-5763, matt_baun@fws.gov