MKWC’s wildlife program focuses on monitoring those species that are native to the Klamath National Forest and have been here for centuries but have since diminished to the point that they are either threatened or endangered.
Most recently MKWC has completed a joint effort with the USFS Happy Camp Ranger District surveying for the Northern Spotted Owl (NSO). In order for timber harvest to occur we must first determine if an area is home to the NSO. Surveys occur at dusk and frequently last into the very early morning hours. Recently we have seen a great influx of Barred owls from the North. Barred owls are considered an invasive species and are more aggressive than the NSO. As such, they are highly competitive and often out compete the smaller and less aggressive NSO. They also are not as restricted in what they eat and can live in an area much more dense and overgrown. Current forest management practices favor this type of habitat. Increased fire management would open up NSO habitat and allow for greater competition. There is also an new experiential eradication effort taking place in Oregon to remove the Barred owl and allow for reintroduction of the NSO.
Future efforts look to our native Roosevelt Elk. Observations of elk habitat use-patterns suggest that many of the local elk make relatively short seasonal migrations from their summer range in and around the Marble Mountain Wilderness meadow complexes, to mid and lower-slope winter ranges where they rely primarily on plantations with a grass component, and dense surrounding forests, for forage, calving and thermal cover.
While there appears to be more than adequate amounts of quality summer range in the upper elevation wilderness meadows to support our expanding elk herds, there is a concern that the early seral stage stands (plantations) that the elk are relying on for calving and winter forage are quickly growing and transitioning into early-mature stands that typically don't provide the important forage components that the elk need. Unless something is done to address this trend, our elk are likely to eventually move out of the area.
Over time, fire suppression and intensive timber management have resulted in increased brush densities, loss of meadows, openings, wetlands, and oak woodlands, and the creation of large stands of dense commercial conifer plantations. It is the relatively rapid succession from early seral plantations that in the short term can provide important habitat elements for elk to mature stands that generally lack adequate forage, where the main problem lies.
Plans have been made for aggressive plantation management, which would create early seral openings and grassy areas between the treated plantation's leave trees. These types of treatments could also draw problem elk away from nearby private properties, which have become inviting to elk following recent MKWC fuels reduction efforts. Increasing the spacing of plantation trees and other overly-dense stands within the winter range of our expanding elk herds could be beneficial to the health of those stands, to the elk and other wildlife that use them, for the people that live or gather plant materials in the area, and for the ecosystem in general. It is also hoped that a commercial product in the form of small diameter logs or bio-mass fuels could be produced to help offset the costs of this work.
Other species MKWC has worked to restore include: Blue-Grey Taildropper Slugs, Beavers, Goshawks, Porcupines, Whitetail Deer & Fishers.