Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Massive ranch becomes Washington wildlife area

The assets of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department’s latest major land deal were on display last week. Some guests arriving for the dedication of the 4-O Ranch Wildlife Area at the old Mountain View town site overlooking the Grande Ronde River reported spotting elk, deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, cougars, golden eagles, wild turkeys and more. Others said they’d been scouting fishing hot spots. And that was just driving to the event. Much more was out of sight among the timber, basalt cliffs and talus slopes, meadows, creeks, thickets and ag fields on the 10,502 acres sweeping up from the river to the Umatilla National Forest. After a decade of meetings, surveys and grant applications followed by five acquisitions since 2011, the agency has taken ownership of a cattle spread featuring standout wildlife diversity. The 4-O Ranch was acquired for $19.1 million, with 62 percent covered by state grants and 38 percent covered by federal endangered species programs. The federal funding owes to the area’s value for nourishing threatened stocks of steelhead, fall chinook and bull trout, along with wildlife including goshawks and eagles.  “My family has been here since 1954,” said Mike Odom, who sold most of the ranch to the state. “I’ve always appreciated the ranch and growing up with the wildlife. “The cooperative agreement benefits both the public and my family. I’m glad for everything that occurred.” Odom kept some of the 4-O Cattle Ranch land and has agreements to continue grazing and farming in portions of the public wildlife area...more

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