Nehalem’s Karen Kuntz recieves prestigious award

An award never seen on this side of the Rocky Mountains has landed in North Tillamook County.
ODFW recognized Nehalem’s Karen Kuntz and her Foley Peak Angus cattle operation with the Riley Freeman award during the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and Oregon Cattlewomen’s Convention and Tradeshow earlier this month in Bend.

By Brian Cameron
“It was a big surprise to be the recipient of the award,” said Kuntz. “I was beside myself – it was quite an honor to get it.”
Foley Peak Angus raises high quality, grass-fed beef on a 304-acre property in the Nehalem River watershed. The ranch uses an active grazing rotation plan, storm water runoff control, buffer strips along waterways and other efforts as part of a Resource Management System developed with the help of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Tillamook Soil and Conservation District.
Rotational grazing throughout the property has been very effective at maintaining good field conditions and reducing sediment and manure runoff into Tomlinson Creek, which is a tributary of Foley Creek and the Nehalem River. Both sides of the creek have full vegetation, providing good canopy and habitat for wildlife and keeping water temperatures cooler for fish.
Native tree plantings of conifers and diverse shrubs have also improved wildlife habitat and provide escape cover, thermal protection and rearing and roost areas for neo-tropical birds. Kuntz’s efforts have paid off for other local native wildlife including Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, raptors, mustelids, and beavers which benefit from the diverse habitat the ranch provides.
Juvenile salmonids also benefit from Kuntz’s stewardship. As they seek cooler water during the summer, the riparian buffers along Tomlinson Creek provide refuge from other areas of Foley Creek and the Lower Nehalem River with higher temperatures.
“The Kuntz family are committed stewards of their land and have been a pleasure to work with,” said Chris Knutsen, North Coast Watershed District Manager. “Foley Peak Angus is a great example of working agricultural land that continues to provide important habitat for Oregon’s fish and wildlife species.”
The Riley Freeman award is named after a past Chairman of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Wildlife Committee. Freeman saw the need for greater coordination and cooperation between private landowners and state and federal natural resources agencies. While he defended an individual’s property rights, Freeman also advocated for partnerships between wildlife managers, landowners, and wildlife consumers. In his memory, ODFW and OCA established an annual award to recognize an OCA member that best exemplifies Riley Freeman’s passion for the cattle industry, good land stewardship and avocation for partnerships.
“I’m still a little emotional about receiving the award,” said Kuntz. “It’s a big deal and the first time the award has been granted to anyone this side of the Rocky Mountains.”