Conservation Specialist Nicole Ahr has only been with the District for one year, but what a year it’s been. A valuable addition to the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District team from the onset, Ahr is an experienced biologist with an undergraduate degree from University of Oregon and a masters degree in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University.
She has worked with the U.S. Forest Service, the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and, most recently, the Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District. Much of her professional focus has been on wildlife habitat, including on-the-ground projects as well as data analysis and statistical modeling.
Since joining the District, Ahr has worked collaboratively with District staff, partners, and local agencies on a wide variety of projects. She has helped bring Audubon’s Backyard Habitat Program further into Clackamas County to help landowners create valuable wildlife habitat in our urban communities. Additionally, she has been instrumental in the development of a series of oakscaping projects and programs to help manage, restore, and revitalize native Oregon white oak habitat for both rural and urban landowners within the District.
Her most challenging and exciting project, however, has been a proposal for the Molalla River Forest Habitat Corridor Project. If approved, this project will protect wildlife habitat on a significant stretch of older growth forest along the Molalla River. “This is an incredible opportunity to preserve this special spot for future generations,” says Ahr. “This particular piece of property connects to a very long corridor of Bureau of Land Management habitat land that reaches down to the Table Rock Wilderness. It’s some of the best habitat in the Molalla River Corridor.”
“Wildlife habitat has always been my favorite pursuit,” says Ahr. “My dream job has has always been to work outdoors with native plants, fish, and wildlife.” She shares that this was one of the main reasons she was attracted to her position with the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District. “I especially enjoy working with private landowners because it provides opportunities to apply knowledge in an effective and productive way.” She says she thrives on the diversity and variety of her work, and takes joy “in bridging science with real, on-the-ground projects.”
A local Oregonian, Ahr grew up in rural Corvallis and describes her younger self as ” a nature-loving, hippie child.” “I always had a deep affinity for nature and wildlife, starting with plants and birds, and it just grew from there,” she states, noting that her parents, who hold degrees in horticulture and Fish and Game, also had an influence on her development. Ahr also credits her spouse, Michael Ahr, Forest Conservationist with the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, for inspiring her. “I’m so lucky to be able to go home at the end of the day and talk about my work with someone who is truly excited by what I do,” says Ahr.
Ahr is looking forward to developing further expertise in a variety of conservation practices as she continues to grow and work with the District. She intends to help people create wildlife habitat on their properties as part of a more comprehensive conservation plan for their property. She also hopes to deepen the District’s involvement in the Farm to School movement.