Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Oregon

Introduction and General Description
Oregon is an ecologically diverse state encompassing ten ecoregions including the Coast Range, Klamath Mountains, West Cascades, East Cascades, Basin and Range, Owyhee Uplands, Blue Mountains, Lava Plains, Columbia Basin, and Willamette Valley Ecoregions. This ecological diversity is the result of a complex geology that has been influenced by the Missoula floods, alpine glaciation, volcanic activity, and recent tectonic activity. This combination of geologic influences has resulted in a wide array of soil types and plant communities and continues to influence the climate within the different ecoregions in Oregon. For example, precipitation within the state ranges from over 120 inches a year in some areas of the Coast Range to less than 10 inches a year in parts of the Columbia Basin and the Basin and Range Ecoregions. Plant communities range from temperate coniferous rainforest in the Coast Range to wetland and upland prairies in the Willamette Valley and on to sage brush/bunch grass communities in the Basin and Range Ecoregion.

Habitats of Special Concern
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Oregon has been focused on the restoration of wetlands, wet prairie, oak savanna, shrub steppe and stream and riparian habitats. Nearly all of the fifty-six listed, proposed, and candidate species in Oregon rely on one or more of these habitats. This includes all of the listed fish and amphibians, and most of the listed mammals, plants and invertebrates. In addition to providing habitat for listed species, these habitats of concern have been identified in the Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Planning process as conservation and restoration priorities for migratory birds, many of which have been experiencing significant population declines.

Habitat Loss
The primary factor impacting Service trust species in Oregon is habitat loss and degradation. Nearly 70% of estuarine and 40% of freshwater wetlands have been lost in Oregon. In most areas of the State, as much as 80% of the riparian habitat has been lost. In the Willamette Valley, for instance, over 80% of oak savanna habitat has been converted for agriculture and urban uses, river channel complexity has been reduced by up to 80% through channel confinement and removal of large woody debris, and less than 1% of the historic wet and dry prairie habitats remain. Loss of habitat has been compounded by increased fragmentation and introduction of exotic plant species which alter the native species composition and structure. These changes have significantly impacted fish and wildlife resources with resulting declines in listed plants and butterflies, migratory birds, anadromous fish, and other species.

Conservation Strategies
The emphasis on wetland restoration is due to the importance of wetland habitat to many of the Service’s trust species, including migratory birds, anadromous fish, and manylisted threatened and endangered species. The Partners Program in Oregon has focused on the restoration of wetlands near the Service’s National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath and Malheur Basins, the Willamette Valley, and on the Oregon Coast. Much of the recent Partners Program activity has been concentrated in the Klamath Basin, the Willamette Valley and along the Oregon Coast. Many of these restoration efforts have centered on restoring floodplain wetland complexes. Coastal floodplain wetland restoration generally includes removing tidegates, breaching levees, restoring tidal channels, and replanting native trees and shrubs along tidally-influenced rivers. These floodplain wetland complexes provide significant benefits to migratory birds while restoring crucial habitat for juvenile coho and steelhead salmon, which have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  The cost for these projects has averaged roughly $1,200 per acre, including the restoration of tidal channels.

Wet Prairie and Savanna
These habitats are home to a number of declining plant species, including 6 listed threatened and endangered species, provide important habitat for 22 species of migratory birds which show significant population declines, and are used by more than 50 species of concern. Restoration activities have focused on rehabilitation and expansion of existing savanna and wet prairie remnants. Historically, Native Americans used fire as a management tool in many of these areas. The removal of fire from the landscape and the introduction of non-native grasses have altered the plant communities in these remnant prairies. The principal restoration techniques employed on these sites have been the reintroduction of fire, removal of invasive species, and seeding native species. Recent monitoring results show that controlled burning of degraded wet prairie sites that result in a significant increase in the population of a Federally listed plant, Bradshaw’s lomatium. Some sites require more intensive work which is being done experimentally on sites are extremely degraded and do not possess significant remnants of the native plant communities. A current project of this type includes the reintroduction of Kincaid’s lupine, a Federally threatened plant, which is the primary host plant for the larval stage of the Federally endangered Fender’s blue butterfly.  The cost for these projects has ranged from $650 per acre for rehabilitation to $2,000 per acre for intensive restoration.

Streams and Riparian Areas
Forty-five percent of Oregon’s freshwater fish species have declined or are at risk of extinction. While streams and riparian areas comprise less than 15% of the land area in Oregon, they are among the most productive, diverse, and critical habitats for both aquatic and upland species.

Riparian areas contain elements of both aquatic and terrestrial systems and provide a transition between these two habitats that supports species that depend on both. About 85% of Oregon’s terrestrial vertebrate species depend on riparian habitat at some stage in their life history. This includes many migratory birds and most threatened and endangered species.

Stream restoration activities have included fish passage and installation of rock and large woody debris in order to enhance fish habitat complexity and function. The cost of these projects has ranged from $500 to $2000 per structure for rock weirs and engineered log jams. Stream reconstruction projects, which involve returning a ditched and channelized stream back to its natural state, are becoming a more common restoration technique to recover the most degraded streams. These projects cost an average of $50 per linear foot.

Riparian restoration is accomplished through a number of other restoration techniques. Poor grazing practices have caused significant degradation of many of the riparian areas in Oregon. Fencing is used to exclude livestock from sensitive riparian areas and off-channel water is provided for cattle. In other areas, where poor harvest practices have removed spruce, cedar, and other conifers from the riparian area, revegetation and silvicultural treatments are used to restore the habitat. The presence of large conifers in these areas are important for wildlife as well as for their future contribution to aquatic habitat complexity. Conifers persist in river and stream systems and are a key for stability and complexity of salmon and trout habitat in the Pacific Northwest.


  • Over 170 Miles of Fish Passage Barriers Removed 
  • 160 Miles of Instream Improvements
  • 1,200 acres of Riparian Restoration
  • 15,000 Acres of Wetlands Restored & Enhanced
  • 12,000 Acres of Upland (Native Grasslands, Shrublands, & Oak Savanna) Restored & Enhanced

Future Needs
Restore or enhance 400,000 acres of freshwater wetlands, primarily in the Klamath Basin, Basin and Range, and Willamette Valley due to the importance of these areas to migratory birds.

Restore or enhance 6,000 acres of tidal wetlands in the Coast Range and Lower Columbia River which would provide crucial habitat for declining and listed anadromous fish and migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.

Restore and enhance 35,000 acres of wet prairie and 55,000 acres of oak savanna in the Willamette Valley, where 99% of these habitats have been lost or degraded and 22 species of migratory birds and 50 species of plants are experiencing significant declines.

Restore and enhance 12,000 miles of stream habitat and 400,000 acres of riparian habitat, which are important habitats for over 80% of the vertebrate species in the State, including migratory birds, as well as 37 candidate, threatened, and endangered species.

Contact Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Oregon

CalLee Davenport
Oregon State Coordinator
2600 S.E. 98th Avenue
Suite 100
Portland, Oregon  97266
Phone: 503-231-6179
Fax: 503-231-6195


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