A nonprofit conservation group has teamed with state biologists to create a free series of field excursions to give Oregonians first-hand experience with the fish and wildlife resources the state has to offer.
The Firsthand Oregon partnership between the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife kicks off July 10 with a look at black-bear conflicts with people in and around the coastal city of Florence.
Modeled after a similar program in Wisconsin, the program teams groups of six to 20 people with ODFW biologists in the field to provide a hands-on look at how Oregon's natural resources are managed and some of the issues surrounding how best to keep them healthy, organizers say.
Other trips include a hike into a High Cascades lake during a fish-stocking project, touring habitat for endangered Columbian white-tailed deer and feeding elk in December at the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area near Seaside.
"I think this is a great opportunity for us, and a great way to promote the work that field biologists do," OWHF Executive Director Tim Greseth says.
The pilot program focuses on excursions in northwest Oregon, Greseth says. If the excursions are popular, well attended and run smoothly, plans are to expand them into southwest Oregon, Greseth says.
Though the programs are free, preregistration is required and group sizes are limited.
Through Wednesday, July 7, half of the slots in each trip will be held for any of the about 200 foundation members, Greseth says. After July 7, any unused foundation slots in all of the trips will be open to the general public.
Most of the trips are on Saturdays, and ODFW field staff participating in them will not be paid, Greseth says.
Participants should expect to encounter varied field conditions and arrange their own transportation to and from the tour sites.
Register online at Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation's website, www.owhf.org/firsthandoregon, or call Greseth at 503-255-6059.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.