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Free seed available for wildlife habitat

Landowners who would like to attract more wildlife to their property can take advantage of an annual, free, grass-seed giveaway that begins Monday.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has teamed with the Medford-based Oregon Hunters Association to provide 1.5 tons of a mix of grass seeds to create forage opportunities for everything from big-game animals to nongame birds.

Each landowner can get a 25-pound bag to be planted this fall, which is enough seed to turn about 2 acres into a veritable wildlife magnet.

The mix includes subterranean clover, timothy, plantain, Persian clover and orchard grass, says Vince Oredson, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist.

They are all non-native grasses chosen because they compete well with starthistle and other non-native weeds, Oredson says.

"All kinds of critters like this. Turkeys and deer like it a lot," Oredson says. "Elk, if they're around. They love subterranean clover and Persian clover."

The seed can be picked up at the ODFW office at the Denman Wildlife Area, 1495 E. Gregory Road.

The seed is best when planted in the fall so it will sprout with fall rains, Oredson says. It does not require irrigation, he says.

The plot will reseed itself annually after that first year, Oredson says.

"You plant it, and it could last five or 10 years before you need to do it again," he says. 

The giveaway begins each Oct. 1 and runs until the seed is gone. It is given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

The seed costs $2.80 per pound, with 1 ton purchased through an ODFW habitat fund and the remainder bought by the OHA, Oredson says.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.