A win for wildlife! Upholding protections for mule deer when they are most vulnerable

Earlier this year, we challenged a proposed amendment to Deschutes County's winter range zone that would have allowed new uses in critical wildlife habitat... and we won!

 Central Oregon's mule deer populations have been in decline for several decades, according to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department.  photo:  montucky.wordpress.com

Central Oregon's mule deer populations have been in decline for several decades, according to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department. 
photo: montucky.wordpress.com

Mule deer are a treasured native species protected by Oregon Land Use Planning Goal 5, along with Oregon's other natural resources. For decades, Deschutes County’s wildlife zone has protected the winter range from uses like public schools, recreation centers and golf courses. These activities are prohibited because they degrade critical winter range habitat by generating public activity, noise, and habitat alterations.

Last year when Deschutes County proposed amending the code to weaken winter range protections, LandWatch's members and allies, including the friends of the Tumalo Wildlife Corridor, voiced their strong support for protection of winter range habitat and the species that depend on it. Despite the public outcry and unanimous opposition from its own Planning Commission, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners adopted the proposed amendment. 

But we didn’t give up. Together with our supporters, we challenged the amendment to the State Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) and won! You can read LUBA’s decision here.

 Mule deer attempt to minimize their energy expenditures in winter. Human disturbances cause stress that can require deer to unnecessary expend energy, which affects survival and reproduction.  photo:  montucky.wordpress.com

Mule deer attempt to minimize their energy expenditures in winter. Human disturbances cause stress that can require deer to unnecessary expend energy, which affects survival and reproduction. 
photo: montucky.wordpress.com

Many thanks to our supporters who consistently wrote in and showed up to public hearings to speak for the wildlife that contributes so much to our quality of life, and cannot speak for itself. This is an important win for wildlife, and it’s all because of you.