1/15

Pacific fisher gets new protection thanks to Oregon timber companies

Conservation efforts for the rare Pacific fisher, a forest-dwelling member of the weasel family, received a significant boost this year when five timber companies and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) voluntarily signed collaborative agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to help protect the animal.

The agreements designate two million acres of forestland for conservation efforts to help restore the population. Green Diamond, Hancock Forest Management, Lone Rock Resources, Roseburg Forest Products, Weyerhaeuser Company, and ODF have pledged conservation measures including things like protecting habitat around den sites during the denning season, leaving downed trees in place to provide habitat, thinning to restore dense stands, and working with researchers to continue to learn about fishers.

The first of these agreements was made by Green Diamond Resource Company this summer. Green Diamond manages 500,000 acres of working forest land in Southern Oregon.

“We are pleased to be part of a collaborative effort with the USFWS to conserve the fisher,” said Douglas Reed, president of Green Diamond, in a release. “Together we are building a strategy to protect fisher that inhabit our working forest land and develop habitat to aid in continued recovery of the species,” he added.

In October, the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) announced that four additional timber companies in Oregon are joining Green Diamond in its effort to conserve the fisher populations. These proactive, voluntary collaborative agreements formalize a long-term partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and timber companies.

“It feels good to be able to work in partnership with the USFWS and other timber companies to implement voluntary conservation measures such as creating bio-dens, removing entrapment hazards, and leaving more legacy wildlife trees on our timberlands,” said Mark Wall, Oregon Land and Timber Manager for Roseburg Forest Products. “Along with other conservation measures we have agreed to implement, we hope these actions will help to promote Fisher use of our working forests.  This new collaborative approach with USFWS to protect and conserve at-risk species such as Fisher has been well received by our employees and contractors with many measures already implemented on our timberlands in the two months since we signed our CCAA.”

The agreements bring the total acres of working forests for the collaborative conservation effort to 2 million, designed to stabilize and increase the animal’s populations in the Oregon.

“When our forests are healthy and wildlife is thriving, everybody wins,” said Dave Tenny, founding president and CEO of NAFO, in a release from the organization. “NAFO members are committed to managing our forests to provide clean air, clean water and abundant wildlife habitat for the long term. We are proud that the commitments we make today, like the forests we manage, will be in place for the next generation.”

OPB recently reported that the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to protect the fisher and its habitat under the federal Endangered Species Act. The voluntary conservation agreements could influence that decision.

“If you get enough folks to do it over a wide enough area of a species range, you could actually influence the conservation status of that species to such an extent that maybe you don’t need to list it,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Oregon supervisor Paul Henson in the article.

Through the agreements the timber companies have also agreed to contribute close to $90,000 in cash and supplies over the first three years. The funds will be used for fisher research and monitoring.