The recent sightings of a mountain goat near the Badlands and reports that grey wolves may have moved into the Cascades, are a reminder that wildlife often ranges widely in search of new habitats and seasonally between summer and winter range. Wildlife migration or "movement" corridors aren't a new concept, but their importance appears to be growing both as development (housing, roads, fencing, etc.) impedes wildlife movement and as climate change makes it necessary for many species to search out new habitat.
For more than a decade the Land Trust has been working to protect key migration corridors for salmon and steelhead. Our protected lands on Whychus Creek including Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Rimrock Ranch, and our new project at Whispering Star, are great examples of this work. Protecting these stream reaches not only provides migration corridors for fish, but also for big game, bird species, and small mammals.
If successful, the Whispering Star project will protect two additional miles of Whychus Creek for steelhead and native redband trout, while the canyon and adjacent uplands provide a link between existing public lands and a route for mule deer and Rocky Mountain Elk to move from summer range in the Cascades to their winter range on the Crooked River National Grasslands.
Skyline Forest is another example of a current project that could protect important migration corridors. Recent studies indicate that mule deer range from the Gilchrist area into the Crooked River National Grasslands. They travel through LaPine, Sunriver, Skyline Forest, Plainview/Tumalo, into the Cline Buttes area, and finally into the Grasslands. Securing large blocks of forest like Skyline Forest and the 34,700 acre Gilchrist Tree Farm are essential to any effort to maintain these migration corridors.
Finally, the Greenprint for Deschutes County is an effort to look broadly at local conservation needs (like migration corridors) and coordinate longterm planning for thier protection.
Special Note: Skyline Forest is currently under a Deer Winter Range Closure that is in effect until March 31st. This closure protected the migration corridors discussed above. Learn more.