Today Salmon-Safe presented our “Hero of Salmon” award to Oregon’s Van Duzer Vineyards for exceptional work in protection of landscape-level biodiversity in vineyards and adjacent natural areas. The award, a chinook salmon sculpture in stainless steel, is hand crafted from a salvaged Oregon highway sign. It is presented annually by Salmon-Safe to a Northwest wine grower at the LIVE annual meeting. Recent winners have included Ponzi Vineyards and Goschie Farms.

Under the leadership of former vineyard manager Rebecca Sweet, Van Duzer signed on to the Partners in Fish & Wildlife Program from US Fish & Wildlife Service with the idea of providing habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators. The project particularly focused on extending habitat for the endangered Fenders Blue Butterfly. Fenders can be found at the neighboring Basket Slough NWR. Current vineyard manager Bruce Sonnen has expanded efforts to create functional habitat for wildlife in collaboration with USFWS.

The Van Duzer habitat enhancement project is paying dividends for Oregon wildlife even beyond establishing Fenders Habitat. USFWS field biologists monitoring restoration efforts in the vineyard and adjacent natural areas are seeing increased populations of native birds such as: slender-billed nuthatch, acorn woodpecker, Oregon vesper sparrow, and western bluebird.

Van Duzer was one of the first vienyards to achieve Salmon-Safe and LIVE certification more than a dozen years ago and now they are on track to be Oregon’s first butterfly-safe vineyard too.