ODFW is proposing to exchange an isolated tract of PWSWA lands for private lands adjacent to PWSWA. The new property is in a more strategic location to protect winter range for the Murderers Creek Unit mule deer herd. It will also provide much easier public access to adjacent BLM and USFS lands, increasing public recreation opportunities in Grant County.
The proposal would involve exchanging 160 acres (Deer Creek tract) of PWSWA for 560 acres of a private parcel (South Basin Springs) adjacent to the PWSWA. The addition would enhance PWSWA habitat protection for mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk, pronghorn, blue grouse, ruffed grouse, mountain quail, wild turkey, and a variety of non-game species. The addition is also identified as part of a conservation opportunity area in the Oregon Conservation Strategy.
The exchange will involve some payment to the private landowner for the larger, more accessible parcel. Monies for the payment will come from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service state wildlife grant, which is funded through a federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition. The federal grant will be matched with monies from a prior land donation from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
The land exchange will ultimately need to be approved by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, which will consider the proposal at its March 8 meeting in Salem.
In addition to this public meeting, written comments about the proposed land exchange will be accepted through March 1. Comments should be directed to Kevin Blakely, John Day Watershed District Manager, 73471 Mytinger Lane, Pendleton, OR 97801, email@example.com.
Public testimony will also be accepted at the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting on March 8, 2013 in Salem.