JOHN DAY - Grant County rancher Rich Wilburn has been awarded a $15,070 grant from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's (ODFW) Access and Habitat Program to replant alfalfa fields on his property that have been heavily grazed by elk. The funds also will be used to rebuild elk damaged fences.

A herd of about 400 elk and 150 deer use his alfalfa fields on a regular basis. Wilburn has allowed damage hunts in the past on his 15,000-acre property. He also has worked with ODFW to implement a variety of wildlife habitat improvement projects on his land that resulted in fewer junipers, new water sources and establishment of native grasses and legumes.

In addition to the Access and Habitat Program funds, the landowner is contributing $4,320 toward the project.

In return for the grant, Wilburn will allow public hunting on his ranch on a by-permission basis for the next five years.

For more information on the Wilburn Ranch Project, contact ODFW district wildlife biologist Darren Bruning, (541) 575-1167. To learn more about the Access and Habitat Program, contact program coordinator Steve Cherry, (503) 947-6087, or visit the Web site at www.dfw.state.or.us/ODFWhtml/InfoCntrWild/InfoCntrWild.htm

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