|With big game hunting seasons upon us, hunters will be glad to know that a cooperative land management effort provides public access to 60-square miles of private and public lands in Jackson County.
Initiated in 1995 and known as the Jackson Access and Cooperative Travel Management Area (JACTMA), it comprises three parcels near Shady Cove. The joint effort between the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Boise Cascade Corporation, PacifiCorp, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a variety of smaller timberland owners manages public access, protects and enhances wildlife populations and provides a high quality hunting experience for the public.
Travel management areas usually consist of land under a variety of public and private ownership and are managed cooperatively to control motorized access, reduce the effects of public use on big game, minimize road damage and maintenance costs, and improve stream water quality by decreasing siltation. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife coordinates many travel management programs throughout the state.
The impetus for forming JACTMA was concern over vandalism, littering, road damage, poaching and harassment of wildlife on private timberlands in the area. Boise Cascade and other landowners traditionally allowed public access to their properties. The problems landowners were experiencing jeopardized that arrangement.
To address these issues, Oregon State Police officers conduct law enforcement patrols and provide information and education to the public during hunting seasons a strategy that has proved very successful. Their presence has contributed to a better overall hunting experience and helped provide an incentive for private landowners to continue allowing public access to their properties.
Selected road closures are also an integral part of the area's management. By limiting motorized access, harassment of deer and elk populations is minimized and hunters enjoy a higher quality hunting experience without a constant parade of vehicles passing by. Currently, all roads in the Jackson Access and Cooperative Travel Management Area are open from May 1 through three days prior to the start of the Cascade elk season. Between those times, road access restrictions are in effect.
In addition to protecting deer and elk, road closures also reduce the amount of soil erosion into streams, which causes problems for steelhead, coho salmon and other fish species by lowering water quality and damaging spawning areas. Boise Cascade has been actively improving fish habitat in streams on its property, and road closures are critical to the success of those efforts.
"In the past," explains ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist John Thiebes, "the project focused on hiring state police cadets to educate the public on the need for road closures and for enforcing compliance with those closures. Now the JACTMA project also provides an influx of funding from the Oregon Hunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others to do a significant amount of habitat work."
One of those important contributors is the Access and Habitat Program, which has supported JACTMA from the beginning. In 1998, the project was awarded a $52,000 grant to provide funding over a four-year period. Created by the Oregon Legislature in 1993, the A&H Program is funded by a $2 surcharge on hunting licenses. Funds raised by the program are distributed through grants awarded to individual and corporate landowners, conservation organizations, and others to cooperatively fund wildlife habitat improvement and hunter access projects throughout the state.
Because closing roads was a controversial aspect for some local residents, ODFW and other JACTMA cooperators held a series of public meetings to explain the program. "It came out at those meetings that local residents wanted to see more habitat projects in the area," relates Thiebes.
As a result, meadow enhancements, prescribed burning and big game projects are now ongoing. "Our primary goal is to protect and enhance critical deer winter range and elk habitat through travel management and habitat improvement," says Thiebes.
For additional information on the Jackson Access and Cooperative Travel Management Area, contact ODFW wildlife biologist John Thiebes at (541) 826-8774. For more information on the Access and Habitat Program, contact program coordinator Matt Buhler at (503) 872-5260, extension 5349.
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