The collection of native fauna in the Klamath-Siskiyou is an impressive scene: Northern spotted owls nest in ancient forests and produce young owlets at a greater rate than anywhere else. Rare Pacific fishers roam mixed-conifer forest canopy and rear their young in old madrones and oaks, while salmon and steelhead make a cyclical pilgrimage between ocean habitat and the headwaters of our wild rivers.
The forests, wildlands and rivers of the K-S provide refuge for a remarkable variety of wildlife species. Many endemic species those that are found nowhere else in the world - have evolved in patches isolated by the intricate network of waterways and mountain ranges. For this reason, the K-S is second only to southern Appalachia in amphibian diversity. The boundaries of many species’ ranges converge here creating diversity in animal groups, like birds that migrate between our conifer forests and those in central Mexico. A fantastic display of neotropical migrants find a home in the wilds of southern Oregon and northern California.
Protecting At-Risk Species
Part of our work at KS Wild is to track management decisions by the US Fish and Wildlife service to list at-risk species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In continuing a 22-year battle to protect their declining populations, we filed lawsuit with three of our conservation allies to list the Pacific fisher. Other species we continue to fight for include the Siskiyou Mountain Salamander, the Wolverine and four species of Lamprey.
Unfortunately, we live in an era where conservation is political. KS Wild leverages widespread community support to encourage elected officials to protect wildlife and wildlands, and we are glad to be leaders in providing opportunities for public education and action. In 2016 we celebrated the return of gray wolves to our region with a series of community education events. It was a fantastic start to public conversations about predator management with biologists, writers, educators, and wildlife managers.
We look forward to further developing these partnerships and helping look for on-the- ground solutions to wildlife conflicts.
Supporting a Wild Way of Life For Our Fellow Fauna
With the myriad of issues facing our wildlife, we recognize it is critically important to
be a voice for wildlife. KS Wild takes a multi-pronged approach to protecting wildlife in our region. Foremost, we act to protect large blocks of intact forest that many imperiled wildlife species rely upon for habitat and sustenance necessary to reproduce. These large blocks of habitat often provide a “source habitat” for wildlife contributing to population stability and recovery. Conservation efforts in the K-S have protected large wildlife habitat hotspots associated with the Kalmiopsis, Marble Mountains, Siskiyou Crest, Trinity Alps, and the Cascade Range.
Taking Steps to Address Wildlife Threats
There are serious regional and global threats to biological diversity which must
be addressed. Logging and road building activities pose major threats to species dependent on intact forests, such as the Northern Goshawk, the marbled murrelet, Northern spotted owl, Pacific fisher, the red tree vole, green sturgeon, and Coho salmon. The larger, global threat of climate change is particularly troublesome for species with lower dispersal capability or adaptations to high elevation, such as our Oregon Spotted Frog, Western Pond Turtle, and Siskiyou Mountain Salamander.
Additionally, lack of funding remains a significant barrier to the greater effort to protect wildlife. Support for game management and wildlife conservation is a problem with the decline of hunting and fishing in Oregon, and the absence of any support from national legislation. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has been unable to fulfill funding needs, reporting a $32 million budget deficit last year, and not for lack of trying. Unsuccessful fundraising attempts have included creative attempts such as a selling conservation-themed stamps and specialty wines.
Looking Toward the Future
We carry on in 2017 with further resolve to promote habitat restoration and landscape connectivity, protect endangered species, and integrate the best available climate science into management decisions and public education.
Victory for Oregon Spotted Frogs
Perhaps the most imperiled frog population in Oregon consists of the threatened Oregon Spotted Frog population on Jack Creek in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Its small population has plummeted by 80%-90% as its habitat has been hit by drought and extensive cattle grazing.
The Forest Service acknowledges that the remarkable Jack Creek wetlands are a wholly unique groundwater system, unlike any other in the world, that supports an ecosystem of rare and sensitive plants. This is simply not the right place for a cattle feedlot.
After years of illegal grazing, KS Wild and our allies have secured an initial court victory that requires the Forest Service to do its job and protect rare frogs and their fragile riparian habitat.