Wildlife Society Honors LG's Ward

March 04, 2002 12:00 am
FRIEND OF WILDLIFEL: Jim Ward on horseback at Twin Lakes in the Elkhorns. Ward has received the Outstanding Service Award from the Oregon chapter of the Wildlife Society. (Submitted photo).
FRIEND OF WILDLIFEL: Jim Ward on horseback at Twin Lakes in the Elkhorns. Ward has received the Outstanding Service Award from the Oregon chapter of the Wildlife Society. (Submitted photo).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

It was a painful and precarious sight one that La Grandes Jim Ward had seen once too often.

An elk calf had just tried to scale a barbed wire fence along Foothill Road. Unfortunately one of the animals back legs had snagged in the top of the fence.

The calf was in obvious pain as it tried to free itself. Fortunately the young elk caught the compassionate eye of Ward, who lived about two miles away.

Ward walked up to the calf and released its leg from the wire. The animal ran off, unharmed, and unappreciative of Wards life-saving assistance.

The hand Ward extended is the same one he has put forward countless times on behalf of wildlife in Northeast Oregon. Wildlife experts across the Northwest are beginning to take notice.

Ward has received the Outstanding Service Award from the Oregon chapter of the Wildlife Society. The Wildlife Society is one of the leading professional organizations of wildlife managers in the United States.

He was nominated for the award by La Grandes Mark Penninger, a U.S. Forest Service biologist.

Jim is totally committed to wildlife, Penninger said.

He noted that Ward, a hunter, is equally interested in game and non-game wildlife. He works as hard to help songbirds as he does to assist elk and deer.

It is unusual for someone to have such a balanced focus, Penninger said.

The Wildlife Society award recognizes things such as:

The efforts Ward made to get the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to purchase about 900 acres of private land last year near Foothill Road. The land is now managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and has been added to the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

The thousands of nest boxes he has built for several species of birds. He has encouraged many others to build bird structures through a birdhouse-building day he leads annually at Ladd Marsh. Hundreds of structures for birds are built there each year.

The work Ward has done for barn owls. In 1983 Ward began building nest boxes for barn owls. To date he has placed nearly 100 boxes throughout the valley and has given away many others around the state.

About four years ago he and ODFW biologist Scott Findholt began working on a barn owl banding project. They have now banded hundreds of birds.

Wards efforts to establish wildlife habitat. For about 20 years he has been planting and growing several hundred trees a year. He gives them to friends, neighbors and others wishing to establish wildlife habitat. He has planted many of these trees at Ladd Marsh and has coordinated many planting projects with wildlife groups.

The work Ward has done to form the Friends of Ladd Marsh. The group has done things like removing some of the barbed-wire fencing along Foothill Road that snag elk and deer.

Efforts Ward has made to educate the public about wildlife. To this end he has donated hundreds of wildlife photographs plus many wildlife periodicals to the ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service. He has also helped set up a large wildlife video collection at the La Grande Public Library with help from the Grande Ronde Bird Club, of which he is a member.

These are just a few of the things Ward has done to promote wildlife. ODFW biologist Mark Henjum, who has worked with Ward for about two decades, said that Wards contributions are uncommon.

Jim does more to bring an awareness about resource issues to the general public than any individual I can think of, Henjum said. He reaches out to people. Every time he works on something he brings a cadre of people.

Ward, who grew up in La Grande, has worked for the Boise Cascade Corporation for 26 years. He and his wife Cheryl, who have a son and a daughter, have lived on Foothill Road for about 20 years.