Justin Jones, Zumwalt Prairie Preserve project steward
By Melissa Roy-Hart
Then he saw our classified ad. A few clicks led to a Wallowa County Chieftain web story about a hunting permit auctioned by a local school foundation. The Nature Conservancy had donated it.
That’s when Jones, then working for the Conservancy in Florida, knew where he wanted to be.
“That story really spoke to me,” said Jones, hired as Zumwalt Prairie Preserve project steward this year. “Exposure to the natural world breeds love and respect for it. I know it’s hard for some folks to understand, but I think hunting can be positive for the environment.”
And for the community.
Each year, private landowners with significant acreage receive hunting permits from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. As Jones learned online, we donate Zumwalt’s bull elk and buck deer tags to local community organizations for raffle or auction.
Since 2002, our permits have raised over $195,000 for schools, clinics and other services in Wallowa County.
The Conservancy allows hunting at a few of our preserves, including Zumwalt. Without it, large elk herds, combined with hunting pressure on adjacent lands, lead to overgrazing of critically important shrubs and trees, including aspen.
Permitted hunters also help patrol and minimize trespassing while providing bridge-building opportunities with the local community.
“People are key to saving the natural world,” Jones said. “And it’s important to be a good neighbor. Hunting isn’t just recreation here. It’s how people feed their families.”January 18, 2012
Melissa Roy-Hart is a writer and videographer for The Nature Conservancy.