Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area
The Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area is the winter home of a herd of up to 200 Roosevelt Elk. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife provides hay, grains, and a safe area (from humans,) in the form of year round protected meadows along a two mile stretch of Highway 202. Two paved parking areas, an interpretative center, and very wide shoulders for off road parking provide ample opportunities to view the wildlife in the area.
Located only a few miles off of Highway 26, this viewing area is a popular destination for Portlanders.
The controversy over wildlife feedins programs has faded a lot since they first started. The various wild life departments claim that it helps animals through hard times, keeps the population viable, keeps animals off area farms, allows transplanting of animals back into places where they’re endangered and adds economically to the area. Jewell Meadows supposedly costs $200,000 a year to operate but brings in $6.5 million in tourist dollars a year.
The opponents of such programs claim that “…feedgrounds foster unnaturally dense concentrations of elk, which results in a variety of problems, the most serious of which is increased infectious disease transmission.” I’m not 100% sure I buy that, because I’ve seen natural herds this big in Oregon before.
One of the nice things about the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area is that not only can the Roosevelt Elk be seen year round, there are a plethora of other animals who live in and near the roughly 3000 acre area. Among them are Bald Eagles, over 40 varieties of other birds, deer, coyotes, and an occasional bear. The official brochure for the Wildlife Area has a small table listing the best times to go see animals.
There are two ways to get to the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. From Portland,drive west on Highway 26. At the town of Elsie, take the left turn to Highway 103 towards Mist/Jewell. After about seven miles the you’ll come to Highway 202. Take a left here towards Astoria. The Viewing Area is on the left side of the road about 1/2 mile from there.
From Astoria, take the southern exit to Highway 202 at the traffic circle west of town. Follow that road for 22 miles. The viewing area will be on the right hand side.