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2016-04-29 Ken Denman and Touvelle

Colaptes auratus

The Kenneth Denman Wildlife Area and the TouVelle State Recreation Area are near Eagle Point Oregon on the Rogue River north of Medford. While visiting my family here last June, I learned Ken Denman was a lawyer who championed preserving the lands here in the Rogue River Valley. Born in Corvallis Oregon in 1904, he followed in  his father’s footsteps to become an attorney. After marrying in 1930, he and his wife moved to Medford for job opportunities. Following World War II, he took a position as head of the Game Commission (now Fish and Wildlife). The US government started a process to dismantle the Army base known as Camp White. Initially, the plan was to sell off the lands as real estate. Denman led the movement and helped push the right buttons in the State Legislature and in the US Government to get the land designated as a wildlife reserve. (Who said all lawyers are heartless?)

The 1990’s saw the reserve fall victim to some of the of local jerks dumping trash on the property. It became a big problem. Efforts to restore some of the original beauty began in 1999. By placing locked gates at the entry roads to the reserve and issuing keys to hunters, fishermen and other naturalists, the riff-raff was kept at bay and the area could be cleaned up.

There are plans to improve the viability of the ecosystem here. In particular, to re-establish the original flow pattern of Little Butte Creek, which had been carved out to flow in a straight line into the Rogue River. By re-establishing the meandering path of this creek, the young Coho Salmon spawned nearby will grow in sheltered places and hide from predators while avoiding the strong currents of the Rogue River.

When I visited the south unit (there is a north and a south unit) on Saturday, a bird dog competition was taking place, so it was not ‘nice and quiet’ as I’d hoped. I was also early in the season for the breeding birds I met last June, and I was unable to capture as many images as I’d hoped. One bird I saw in great numbers was the American Goldfinch. There were 80~100 birds flocking at the edge of some of the ponds. When I hiked down to meet them, they demonstrated the ability to keep me frustrated by hiding on the opposite side of the willows they gathered in <sigh>.

Images can be viewed  below:

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