Wildfire Damaged Wildlife Habitat Rehabilitation Grants Available

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Along with timber and homes, critical wildlife habitat is being affected by this summer's extensive wildfires. To encourage private landowners to act quickly to address habitat damage to their properties caused by wildfire, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Access and Habitat Program has earmarked $100,000 in emergency funds for projects to reseed burned areas.

"We are going to see a lot of ground that's been burned and there's not going to be food for wildlife," said Access and Habitat Board chair Chuck Smith. "There will be a great demand to re-seed, and not all landowners have the money to do that. That's where the Access and Habitat Program can step in to help."

To qualify for a grant, seeding projects must be located entirely on private land containing critical wildlife habitat that has been burned during this year's fire season. In addition, the proposed seed mixture must be approved by local ODFW biologists and all equipment needed to complete the project must be readily available. Projects that will be completed this fall will be given a high priority, but all fire rehabilitation projects will be considered.

Native plant seeds are used whenever available. Nonnative seeds are used when they provide immediate erosion control and wildlife benefits, and do not create long-term competition with native plants.

Normally, the Access and Habitat Program application process takes about six months. Because reseeding burned areas must be done during the fall planting season, special provisions to streamline the review and approval process were adopted by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission at its Aug. 9 meeting.

The Access and Habitat Board will meet via teleconference to review emergency grant applications on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. beginning Aug. 28 and lasting through Sept. 25. All teleconference calls are open to the public.

For more information or to apply for an emergency reseeding project grant, contact your nearest Access and Habitat Program Regional Coordinator:

Don VandeBergh, Portland (503) 621-3488

Ken Smith, Corvallis (541) 757-4186

Mark Vargas, Central Point (541) 826-8774

Larry Pecenka, Bend 541) 388-6363

Dan Gonzalez, Hines (541) 573-6582

Jim Cadwell, La Grande 541) 963-2138

ODFW's wildlife biologists also are working with public land managers on large scale rehabilitation efforts to stabilize soils, protect water quality and provide wildlife forage. The A&H fund may not be used on public lands.

Created by the Oregon Legislature in 1993, the A&H Program is funded by a $2 surcharge on hunting licenses. Funds raised by the program are distributed through grants to individual and corporate landowners, conservation organizations and others for cooperative wildlife habitat improvement and hunter access projects throughout the state.

For more information on the Access and Habitat Program, contact program coordinator Susan Barnes at (503) 872-5260, Ext. 5349.