Umpqua Watersheds Blog

Education, Education-Committee Chair updates, UW Blogs

Education update

by Janice Reid

Umpqua Watersheds recently teamed up with Umpqua Community College and Umpqua Natural Leadership Science Hub to participate in a conference on Stream Amphibians and turtles of Southwest Oregon on Friday, May 12, and Saturday, May 13. Responding to an invitation from renowned herpetologists R. Bruce Bury, Ph.D., and Gwen Bury, PhD., to help host and organize the conference, UW was eager and excited to be involved. Bury received a grant from Oregon Conservation Fund and Northwest Ecological Research Institute to conduct field surveys at historic survey locations in the Umpqua. The conference was part of the grant application to provide an educational component to the community. Over 70 people signed up for the event, 60 people attended the conference on Friday, and 40 people participated in the field training exercise on Saturday.

Those with extensive knowledge in herpetology presented their recent findings on the topic. Umpqua Community College’s Jacoby Auditorium was the setting for the conference. Jason Reilley of Medford BLM, Karen Kiemnec-Tyburczy of Cal Poly Humboldt, Mark Leppin of OSU, Justin Garwood of Calif DFW, Michael Parker of SOU, James Bettaso of USFS Six Rivers, Simon Wray of ODFW all presented valuable information.

Many amphibians in our area are sensitive to major environmental changes such as timber harvest. Turtles are sensitive to rivers that are dammed.

Iverson Memorial County Park and surrounding BLM lands were the setting for the field workshop. Many young professionals and interested community members learned about our area’s sensitive stream amphibians and turtles. Over 50% of the attendees were from Douglas County, but many from Lane and Benton County, Southern Oregon, and coastal communities attended. A few individuals from out of state were present as well. Most attendees were federal employees, but many state, non-profit, tribal, and academics attended.

Gwen Bury gave detailed instructions to avoid damaging the amphibian community while conducting surveys for presence. The project is seeking field technicians. The pay rate is stipend level. For more information, contact Bruce Bury at We hope this will be a regular event, as it was informative.


Searching for amphibians at Iverson Park and a Pacific Giant Salamander youngster.


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