Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden invite Oregonians to participate and comment on a plan to protect key conservation areas in the middle and southern sections of the Willamette Valley. The plan, implemented by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), encompasses habitats for the iconic Western monarch butterfly, the Fender’s blue butterfly, and the Oregon white oak.
“We’ve all experienced the moment of childhood joy and excitement when we spot a butterfly fluttering through the air or a critter scuttle by,” said Senator Merkley, Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the USFWS. “These efforts by the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect habitats are crucial to ensuring future generations are able to share that same excitement. I encourage folks to participate in the public comment forum, and look forward to seeing this conservation plan come to fruition so the Valley remains a vibrant home not just for us, but for the many species who live here.”
“Conserving the habitats of crucial plant and pollinator species is the Oregon Way of helping our state’s agriculture producers do what they do best: grow,” Wyden said. “Conversations like these as well as increased on-the-ground collaboration with the Fish and Wildlife Service will go a long way to protect endangered species for future generations. I encourage all Oregonians to participate in the public forum to conserve habitats in the Willamette Valley for generations to come.”
The plan by FWS proposes using the Willamette Valley Oak and Prairie Cooperative’s Primary Planning Area for their conservation study area, which includes habitat for 10 species listed under the Endangered Species Act, two candidate species, and numerous other plant and animal species of concern. The land protection plan would establish the foundation for the Willamette Valley Conservation Area. With a priority on existing oak and prairie habitat, the plan would allow the Service to work with willing landowners within the footprint to preserve areas of high conservation value.
The FWS published the Draft Land Protection Plan, Conceptual Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, and is welcoming public comment through December 18. The plans are available at www.fws.gov/refuge/william-l-finley and the public can provide comments on the plan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via mail at Willamette Valley NWRC LPP, 26208 Finley Refuge Road, Corvallis, OR 97333.