Wildlife habitat program will continue

    Apopular program in which the state of Oregon helps private landowners grow more forage for Roosevelt elk, wild turkeys and other critters in some backwoods pieces of Jackson County is poised for another four-year run.

    The Rogue Meadows Enhancement Project is set to receive another $16,000 to buy fertilizer for placement on 102 acres of private lands over the next four years.

    The funding has already been recommended by the Access and Habitat Board, which oversees spending of a $4 surcharge on hunting licenses on projects that benefit animal habitat and hunter access.

    The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission was scheduled to approve the recommendation today during its meeting in Portland.

    The project is run by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife along with the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association and Rancheria Ranch, one of the private holdings that receives some fertilization.

    The four meadows set for fertilizing are elk magnets and have been part of this annual program for decades, says Vince Oredson, an ODFW wildlife habitat biologist.

    The fertilization improves forage production and protein content during the elk pre-calving period, according to the ODFW. It helps increase elk productivity and survival of both cows and calves, the agency says.

    One of the parcels is a 7-acre meadow off Ginkgo Basin Road near Union Creek that ODFW and the OHA have invested time and money into improving, Oredson says.

    "It's such a beautiful spot," Oredson says. "So many elk use it.

    "We need more elk forage out there," he says.

    Though the parcel is closed to hunting, it is surrounded by Forest Service lands also used by those elk, Oredson says.

    Likewise, the Rancheria Ranch abuts federal land and private timberlands open to hunting, Oredson says.

    The two other properties are along the Butte Falls-Prospect Highway and they are open to hunting, he says.

    In other action, the commission also is set to adopt a change in licensing rules that offer breaks to those in military service.

    A new law passed earlier this year by the Oregon Legislature gives active-duty military members the chance to buy hunting and fishing licenses and most tags at resident costs. It excludes tags offered in controlled hunts.

    The commission will adopt rules that make the legislature's House Bill 2252 a reality beginning in 2014.

    Another provision of that bill allows the commission to set fees for multiyear licenses at a possible discount from the current one-year license.

    The ODFW has not worked up possible license fees and has yet to make any proposal to the commission about implementing that part of the bill, says Michelle Dennehy, the ODFW's Wildlife Division spokeswoman.

    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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