The Oregon Department of Forestry and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have signed an agreement that will enhance protections for the Pacific fisher on nearly 184,000 acres of land owned by the Oregon Board of Forestry.
The area covered includes the Santiam, Gilchrist and Sun Pass state forests, as well as other Board of Forestry land in Lane, Douglas, Coos and Josephine counties.
Under this Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA), ODF will provide conservation measures for the Pacific fisher, a cat-sized member of the weasel family that lives in lower-elevation conifer forests.
The Pacific fisher is a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. Populations have been reduced over time due to trapping, habitat removal and other impacts. The USFWS will soon decide whether to list the animal as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“Environmental benefits are a key factor in managing to achieve the greatest permanent value of our state forests,” State Forester Peter Daugherty said. “This agreement provides a great opportunity to work with our federal partners to proactively contribute to the conservation of a rare species that has historically made its home in Oregon’s state forests.”
“The Oregon Department of Forestry has put tremendous effort into conserving the Pacific fisher,” said Paul Henson, Oregon State Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Through their voluntary candidate conservation agreement, ODF will protect den sites, contribute to research and monitoring, and consider the possibility of future releases on their lands to increase the fisher population. These voluntary efforts are essential to conserving our rare wildlife.”
In return for providing these conservation benefits, the state receives assurances that no additional conservation measures or future restrictions will be required on Board of Forestry-owned land covered under the CCAA if the species is listed, so long as the CCAA remains in place and is fully implemented. The agreement runs through June 20, 2048.
Today, the Pacific fisher population in Oregon is believed to be confined to two separate areas in southwestern Oregon. While there are no known Pacific fisher dens on state forest lands, the acres covered under the CCAA fall within the fisher’s historic range.
A CCAA is a federal regulatory agreement with non-federal landowners for candidate species that have not yet been federally listed as threatened or endangered. By entering into a CCAA with the USFWS, the state voluntarily agrees to remove or reduce threats to the Pacific fisher on covered lands, assist in acquiring more accurate estimates of fisher densities, and facilitate the reintroduction and monitoring of fishers in Oregon where they no longer exist, with the aim of maintaining and encouraging conservation of the Pacific fisher throughout the historic range.