WLA awarded Oregon Conservation Innovation Grant to develop conflict reduction tools

July 26, 2022 – The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Oregon has awarded Western Landowners Alliance a Conservation Innovation grant to support their “Oregon landowner led strategies for non-lethal predator management” project. The alliance was among four recipients selected to receive funding to advance the development of innovative systems, tools, and technologies for production and conservation on agricultural lands.

The grant will accelerate innovation and adoption of producer-implemented non-lethal predator management alternatives by putting nearly $100,000 in the hands of eight partners across four Oregon counties – Baker, Douglas, Grant, and Wallowa. The alliance will work with livestock producers and county wolf committees in Oregon to evaluate strategies and technologies that enhance the efficiency of range riding, a technique that has numerous ecological benefits, including predator conflict reduction. The funds will also support implementation of a locally-supported carcass composting program in Eastern Oregon. Centralized composting of dead stock carcasses is a strategy for reducing the availability of attractive livestock food sources to carnivores like grizzly bears and wolves. 

The project builds on a national Conservation Innovation Grant that the alliance is leading in collaboration with Heart of the Rockies Initiative that focuses on conflict prevention measures in seven western states where wolves and/or grizzly bears impact ranching communities.

Across the western United States, iconic wildlife like elk, deer, grizzly bears, and wolves share lands with humans, and their livestock. This comes with inevitable conflicts – elk damage fences and eat hay; grizzly bears and wolves attack and stress livestock – and responding to these conflicts requires additional time from land stewards. 

“We are excited to bring more resources for landowner-implemented conflict prevention to Oregon producers,” said the alliance’s Working Wild Challenge program coordinator Alex Few. “Oregon producers have been coming to us for information and support around the 4C’s – compensation, conflict prevention (non-lethal), control (lethal) and collaboration – a systems-based framework for conflict reduction and conservation. Having the resources to formalize that learning process will really help Oregon livestock producers as carnivore populations continue to expand.”

Additionally, the Western Landowners Alliance will connect Oregon producers to their West-wide conflict reduction efforts, allowing Oregon landowners to share and learn from landowners in other states with experience handling livestock-carnivore conflicts. The alliance will also seek to increase coordination with county wolf committee representatives and ranchers through local NRCS working groups to enhance agricultural productivity while providing habitat for large carnivores.

“This project will benefit our ranch by allowing us to have some compensation for the time, money and losses we continue to endure while working towards non-lethal management of the Chesnimnus wolf pack,” said Wallowa County rancher Kelly Birkmaier.

Funding for the grant is provided through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which awards grants to organizations, universities and others that are developing innovations to support farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. 

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For more information about the CIG program, visit https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/cig/

For more information about Western Landowners Alliance’s conflict reduction work, visit https://westernlandowners.org/working-wild-challenge/ 

Contact

Louis Wertz
Communications Director
Western Landowners Alliance

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