Since 1981, Oregon Wildlife Foundation (OWF) has been an important part of preserving the Oregon we all love. Through partnerships with other non-profits, private industry, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, we've directed millions of dollars to projects around our great state aimed at conserving fish, wildlife, and the natural habitat that makes Oregon so special.
Deschutes River Purchase
In 1983, the Eastern Oregon Land Company, which owned more than 12 miles of frontage on the lower Deschutes River, decided to sell its property which it had previously used for livestock grazing. Many Oregonians voiced concerns that limits might be placed on use of the Deschutes River or access to it by whomever purchased the property. One of those Oregonians, Doug Robertson, was in a position to do something about it. Doug negotiated an option to buy the property and approached Governor Victor Atiyeh offering his option to the state of Oregon.
Governor Atiyeh asked the Foundation to lead the effort to purchase and preserve the property for the people of Oregon. Over $1 million dollars in private funds were raised that, combined with federal and state funds, enabled the Foundation to purchase, and then convey the property to the state of Oregon. This purchase, along with the later acquisition of the Sharp Ranch by the Foundation protects, in perpetuity, public access to the lower 17 miles of the Deschutes River.
Salmon Habitat Restoration Project
In 1994, the Foundation partnered with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to initiate the North Coast Salmon Habitat Restoration Project; a landscape-scale effort to restore salmon habitat in north coast streams. That effort soon grew to include all coastal and Willamette Valley streams. Critical to the success of this multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign was the support and active participation of the major forest product companies in western Oregon. This project contributed directly to the development of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds which is the blueprint for fish habitat restoration in Oregon.
Restoration of Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake, high in the southern Cascades, didn’t originally have any fish in it. In the early 1900's it was stocked with rainbow trout that grew extremely well in the clean and cold water of the lake. Its popularity with anglers took off. Tui chub, used as live bait, were introduced and very quickly outnumbered the trout. The ecology of Diamond Lake changed and the trout fishery collapsed. In 1954, with not a trout in sight, the Oregon Game Commission (now ODFW) treated the lake with rotenone. Rotenone is a natural product that kills gill-breathing animals but also dissipates rapidly.
The restocked lake once again became an angler's delight, producing fat rainbow trout. In 1992 tui chub were back in Diamond Lake. After exploring alternatives, ODFW determined that the best solution was another treatment with rotenone. The complexity of this treatment round was considerably higher and more expensive. OWF assisted with this project by raising $1.3 million to help pay for the restoration effort.
Today, Diamond Lake is once again teeming with trout and the rejuvenated lake contributes over $2 million dollars annually to the local economy.
Childswork Play Area
One of the Foundation's community-focused projects in 2016 was with local nonprofits Childswork LLC and Depave. We joined forces on a project that would benefit the environment while also providing a nature-themed play area for local school children.