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Ben Day would be surprised to know that land he sold in the early 1970’s would someday be permanently protected by the organization he helped found.
Thirty-five years ago, Ben - who was a local attorney and is now deceased - was forging new partnerships in the Rogue River Basin to conserve our landscape. He was the driving force behind the formation of the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. A generation later, land that he once owned is now permanently protected with a conservation easement.
The Land Conservancy worked with current landowners Jim and Elise Scheffel (pictured below) to protect the property – and Ben’s conservation legacy – for future generations.
Located near Eagle Point, not far from C2 Ranch, this 290-acre property is mainly oak woodlands, a threatened habitat type in Southern Oregon (less than 1% of our oak woodlands remain following European settlement). It has great value as sensitive big game winter habitat. Its unique topography and patchy arrangement of woods and grasslands creates an ideal landscape for native mammals, birds, insects and plants to flourish.
“You couldn’t design a more ideal property for deer and elk winter range,” says Vince Oredson, Jr., a Wildlife Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A large reservoir on the property is an important stopover for migratory birds including swans and white pelicans. There is plenty of room left for the resident birds as well, including eagles, ospreys, and numerous songbirds. It is a year-round water source for mammals and other species. For this reason, the Pacific Coast Joint Venture, which develops partnerships to protect and restore habitat for birds and other wildlife, was a funding partner for the project.
Another feature of the property is Schoolhouse Creek, which flows through the length of the property, along with numerous tributaries. The Creek is ideal habitat for resident trout, summer steelhead, and possibly coho salmon.
Jim and Elise have managed the property for three decades to support wildlife, and now their legacy of careful stewardship will be carried forth for generations to come.
Hats off to Ben– the model of land conservation he championed has made it full-circle. And many thanks to Jim and Elise for their commitment to conserving this wonderful slice of Southern Oregon.