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Connection to the Land Saves a Windswept Swath of Oregon Wilderness

When Don Byrd purchased 2,271 acres in Lakeview, Oregon, back in 2007, he was looking for a retirement property that would keep him active. But from the outset, he knew he wanted to accomplish something more, something that would enable him to ensure that at least some of the wildlife he loved would always have a safe place to roam free.

Along with the vastness of the land Byrd selected -- and permanently protected through the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy and the HSWLT -- comes a diversity of habitats that enable the land to support well over four hundred species of wildlife. Over a dozen species of sagebrush, extensive woodlands, and seasonal ponds provide for 310 bird species, 76 mammal species, 15 reptiles, and 4 amphibians. Also likely to live among the wildlife flourishing on this property’s gentle, sage-covered slopes are two of the region’s imperiled species -- the sage grouse and the pygmy rabbit.

“The land’s potential for providing a nature preserve was its main attraction,” says Byrd, identifying its key features, “remoteness, water resources, and room for expanding the forest.” Where parts of the forest had been harmed by grazing activity, spilling over from nearby ranches, he planted over 4,400 trees -- a mix of Ponderosa pine, sugar pine, cedar, and some fir.

“I enjoyed the work itself, as well as the opportunity to hike and watch wildlife through the changing seasons,” says Byrd.  It was an experience that he says deepened his connection to the land and his compassion for the animals who depend upon it. Wildlife also need this sizeable and strategically located stretch of land so they can move between and among surrounding federally protected lands in order to keep the genetic mix within their populations healthy.

From the diverse plant life growing in its varied soils to the clear skies above its forests, the Greenwood Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary is a place of wonder and inspiration. It stands as one of those increasingly rare places where snow still falls pure and clean and the night skies are still dark enough to allow the Milky Way to appear as a river in the sky, even to the naked eye.

HSWLT executive director Bob Koons “impressed me that he was genuinely interested in wildlife and dedicated to improving diminishing habitat,” says Byrd, making HSWLT the land trust that is most compatible with his vision. “The caliber of HSWLT’s commitment to wildlife preservation is both encouraging and a comfort,” he says, “and I urge others who want to protect their land for wildlife to contact HSWLT.”

American Mink

Luxuriously soft, thick, water-repelling fur keeps the American mink warm on land and in water.

 

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