Combatting Biodiversity Loss in Oregon

Snake by Trevor Reynolds

Advocate for Wildlife Conservation Policies

Oregon Wild is committed to fighting threats to a safe and liveable future. We work to combat the extinction crisis and defend, fund, and strengthen critical wildlife policies, like the Endangered Species Act (ESA), for the sake of all species.

In Oregon alone, 294 species are at an elevated risk of extinction, such as the wolverine, southern resident orca, and great gray owl. Despite broad public support for wildlife conservation, extractive industry lobbyists continue a concerted attack to weaken protections for countless species, with dozens of bad bills introduced each session in Congress.

If you’ve seen a bald eagle soaring over Upper Klamath Lake, witnessed a diving peregrine falcon by Portland’s St. Johns Bridge, or had the rare delight of viewing a humpback whale on the coast, then you’ve seen firsthand what the ESA can do to bring back species from the brink of extinction. 

Even if you’re not much of a wildlife watcher, the ESA protects biodiversity, a web of life vital to our health and wellbeing. Clean drinking water and air, secure food systems, new medicine, and climate change mitigation are just a few of the amazing perks of protecting the species around us. It also doesn’t hurt that these ecosystem services amount to a whopping $1.6 trillion of benefits per year in the United States. If there’s one thing the majority of Americans can agree on, it’s that these things are worth protecting, with polls showing that more than four out of five voters support the ESA. 

As the extinction crisis intensifies – with nearly ⅓ of all plant and animal species at risk of extinction – it’s critical we uphold bedrock environmental laws, like the ESA, which has a half century track record of bringing species back from the brink of extinction. In addition to defending the ESA, Oregon Wild is advocating for policies that address the root causes of extinction and habitat loss.  

Secure Funding for Wildlife Recovery

Oregon Wild works to ensure there is sustainable, long-term funding for programs that safeguard and restore Oregon’s most imperiled fish, wildlife, and habitat. While the ESA has been vital in preventing the extinction of myriad species, programs specifically focused on the recovery of fish and wildlife have been woefully underfunded – leaving many species vulnerable to further decline. 

The Oregon Conservation Strategy (OCS), which is Oregon’s blueprint for recovering our most imperiled species and habitat, was created by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to outline a set of priorities and recommendations for addressing Oregon’s fish, wildlife, and habitat conservation needs. 

The Strategy aims to maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations by protecting and restoring habitats and preventing the extinction of imperiled species. These wildlife action plans are Congressionally-required, and are designed to help states implement proactive measures to prevent species from becoming endangered. Outlined in the plan are 294 Strategy Species and 11 Strategy Habitats, which are Oregon’s species of greatest conservation need. These include 17 amphibians, 58 birds, 29 mammals, 5 reptiles, 60 fish, 62 invertebrates, and 63 plants and algae.  

Despite the critical importance of the OCS, since its inception, it has lacked sufficient funds to fully implement necessary actions. For example, though 88% of all fish and wildlife in the state are not hunted or fished (many of which are included in the OCS), they only receive about 4% of ODFW’s budget. That’s why Oregon Wild is working to address this issue by advocating for the passage of crucial funding initiatives. As long as funding remains insufficient and inconsistent, Oregon’s most at-risk species will remain in jeopardy as the extinction crisis persists. 

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