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Southwest - Region 5
Guy Norman

Regional Director

2108 Grand Boulevard
Vancouver, WA 98661

Office Hours: Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
excluding legal holidays

Telephone (360) 696-6211
Fax (360) 906-6776

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
June 2009

June 29


Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Davis Lake Field Rehabilitation (Temple Road): The CWA staff have been trying to establish a grass stand on the Davis Lake fields off Temple Road (approximately 30 acres) ever since the reed canary grass was chemically controlled two years ago. High water two winters in a row has compromised seeding efforts by rotting the seed and promoting the establishment of rush species. The fields finally dried out enough to allow ATV access on to the fields so that staff could broadcast seed onto the bare areas (15 acres) and harrow / drag the ground for better soil contact with the seed. A site visit to the site shows that the seed is germinating nicely. There are a lot of rush species still in the fields, but as the grass grows much of the annual species should be displaced. Next Spring will show how the fields are doing.

Proposed Property Acquisition: CWA staff met with Chuck Leidy WDFW Lands Agent and a representative from State Parks on a possible acquisition along the Tilton River consisting of just over 100 acres of river flood plain with a mixed deciduous/conifer timber cover. Elk and deer use the property and it provides recreational access for fishing and non-consumptive uses such as swimming. This acquisition meets objectives and would make a nice addition to the Wildlife Area.

Biologist Miller planned and led a boat safety class in Vancouver with participants from Fish, Hatcheries, and Wildlife programs.


Land Conservation: Biologist Anderson met with representatives from the Columbia Land Trust and Mt. Adams Resource Stewards to discuss community forestry around the Glenwood Valley of Klickitat County. Both conservation organizations are exploring the concept of forest management on a small scale to support working families and small communities. This effort, if successful, could be an example of the potential for conservation groups to work with forest land managers to keep working forests productive for rural communities.

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Anderson and Holman met with a U.S. Forest Service silviculturist at the Bergen Road turtle site. The majority of the site is owned and managed by the Forest Service and lies within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Habitat improvement for a variety of species including the State Endangered western pond turtle is a priority for USFS and WDFW. Proposed habitat manipulation for the site include continuation of an effort to thin all Douglas firs less than 8” over approximately 300 acres, initiation of the federal NEPA process that would prescribe a more aggressive forest prescription designed to release oaks and pines within the fir stands, prescribed burns, snag creation, control of inappropriate access (ATVs), and treatment of invasive plants.


Operation Dark Goose: Biologist Miller flew the Miller Sands area to locate brooding flocks of geese to prepare for capture on June 30. Several flocks were observed and few of the birds were capable of flight. This project is a joint effort with ODFW and USFWS to leg band and collar dark geese that resemble the Dusky subspecies.


MOCC: Biologist Miller, in his role as Wildlife Program Master Instructor, planned and led a boat safety class in Vancouver this week. Students from the Fish, Hatcheries, and Wildlife program participated. Instructors from Fish, Enforcement, Wildlife, and Administration provided the lecture and on water expertise. Unfortunately Miller had recently injured his back and he was unable to participate in all the events. Our thanks go to Region 5 staff and administration for allowing us to hold the class at the office and for contributing vessels to the training. Another class will be held at the end of September.

June 22


Klickitat Wildlife Area
Grazing: Cattle were moved off the WDFW grazing permit area. Manager VanLeuven checked on the range and completed a Grazing Evaluation form for each of the two subunits. VanLeuven took down signs that advise people to close the gates and replaced various signs that had been knocked over by cattle.


Peregrine Falcon Site Monitoring: Biologist Holman again monitored a falcon site in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The site is in a remote location and requires an extensive hike to a suitable observation location. Both adult falcons were observed at the site and two young were visible in the eyrie. Thanks to raptor biologist Flemming for his assistance with the survey.

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Holman and Anderson concluded the trapping effort at the Bergen Road site. All equipment including boats, traps, anchors, etc. has been removed from the site. Population estimations from this year’s trapping at Bergen will be developed by Science Division Staff


Elk Management: Biologist Anderson discussed elk damage issues with the enforcement division associated with Trout Lake and Glenwood Valleys. Plans include evaluation of current hunting seasons, firearm restriction options, and elk area special hunt options. These two areas that are located in Klickitat County have historically been one of our Region’s most popular hunting areas. The combination of rich agricultural and forest lands associated with excellent escape cover make this area popular with hunters. The associated damage issues in this area also creates a challenge in balancing hunting demand and damage issues.

June 15


Klickitat Wildlife Area
Range Survey: Manager VanLeuven worked with Natural Resource Conservation Service staff Hill and Pomerinke to initiate a range survey sampling effort. This is funded by the Coordinated Range Management group. The sampling sites are on and around the Soda Springs Unit. This is a collaborative effort with Hill and Pomerinke conducting most of the field work and VanLeuven keying in the data and summarizing the results.

Washington Conservation Corps (WCC): The WCC crew has begun work at the KWA again this year. Currently they are working on a small fencing project that is intended to exclude livestock from part of a pond on the Soda Springs Unit. The pond is used as breeding habitat by tree frogs and possibly other amphibians each spring. This pond is also an important watering site for cattle, so part of the pond will remain available for that purpose. The first posts were placed this week, around the perimeter of the pond. More posts will be added as the water level recedes, and four strands of fence wire will be put up after that. The part of the pond that cattle will have access to (under an existing grazing permit) will have material placed on the pond bottom that will provide a harder surface for the animals to walk on, thereby reducing the amount of mud suspended in the water.

Tree tubes in disarray
Tree tubes in disarray

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Tree planting Maintenance: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and volunteer Howard walked about one mile of this spring’s riparian planting along the Toutle River repairing and securing tree tubes on cottonwood and conifer seedlings. The tree tubes are an important aspect of this project as they provide protection from dehydration as well as damage from ungulates and small mammals. In some areas the tubes were found in disarray having been dislodged from the rebar stakes by either elk or wind. Close to 400 trees were checked during the day with only a few found to be uprooted by elk or dead due to planting shock. Each tree tube checked had additional zip ties added to increase the chances that the tube will stay in place. Tubes and rebar from dead trees were retrieved and will be stored for future use.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Spears Mill Pond Recharge Project: During the course of pumping water into the 25-acre millpond, it was discovered that the existing water control structure had failed due to oxidation. The pond was only holding water because a beaver pond had been constructed around the water control structure partially impounding water. The standpipe will need to be replaced sometime this summer. Assistant manager Vanderlip has completed a JARPA and SEPA checklist. The SEPA checklist has been submitted to the agency’s SEPA desk for posting online for public review. If a DNS is issued, the JARPA will be submitted for an HPA.

Davis Lake Field Rehabilitation (Temple Road): The CWA staff has been trying to get a grass stand established on the Davis Lake fields off Temple Road (approximately 30 acres) ever since the reed canary grass was chemically controlled two years ago. High water two winters in a row has compromised seeding efforts by rotting the seed and promoting the establishment of rush species. The fields finally dried out enough to get ATV’s into the fields so that we could broadcast seed onto the bare areas and harrow / drag the ground for better soil contact with the seed. Approximately 15 acres were re-seeded at a rate of about 25 pounds to the acre.


Peregrine Falcons: Biologists from Region 5 conducted peregrine falcon surveys last week in Clark and Lewis Counties. The site in Clark County was checked and minimal activity was observed, none of which indicated successful nesting. WDFW staff and USFS staff observed the site in Lewis County and one possible, short-lived peregrine call was heard, but no birds were observed. This site has not been visited in a few years, so recent status is not known. Hopefully, both sites can be visited again in the coming weeks to verify the original findings and to check for more activity.

Biologist Holman assisted USFS Biologist Wainwright with monitoring a falcon site in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The site is in a remote location and requires an extensive hike to a suitable observation location. One adult falcon was observed at the site and young could be heard calling from the eyrie. However, the complex topography and heavy forest surrounding the site made viewing the young impossible. An additional visit has been scheduled to determine the number of chicks present at the site.

Western Pond Turtles: Biologist Slavens reports that we now have 11 western pond turtle nests in the ground at our Klickitat County site. Most of these nests were found over the last 3 days. Most nesting attempts should be complete by the end of next week. In addition, bullfrog egg masses are being removed and a total of 7 have been located. We have a volunteer from Sydney, Australia that has been helping and she will be leaving next week and will be replaced by four interns from the Oregon Zoo for the remainder of the project.

June 8


Grading Sheep Canyon Road
Grading Sheep Canyon Road

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Road Maintenance: The WDFW Road Maintenance crew worked on the Soda Springs Unit this week, and graded approximately 5-1/2 miles of roads. In addition, rock was added to the road in the Canyon Creek Campground where large puddles form in spring. Rock was also placed on the South Breaks Road. This road has been difficult to repair or maintain due to persistent soil moisture in spring, such that the appropriate time to work on it never coincides with the best time to grade the other roads. The rock surface should stand up to traffic better than the native soil surface did. Two turnouts were added to provide places for people to either park or turn around. These were needed because people often become stuck in mud when they attempt to do either of these things. By the end of June, the first mile of the South Breaks Road will have a rock surface.

Wildflower update: Flowers blooming now on the Soda Springs Unit include bicolored cluster lily, hyacinth cluster lily, taper-tip onion, mule ears, Columbia frasera, western blue flag (iris), several species of lupine, red columbine, woods rose, balsamroot, slender godetia, and showy downingia. Deerbrush is also beginning to bloom.

Mule ears Showy Downingia Woods Rose Iris & Lupina
Mule ears Showy Downingia

Woods Rose

Iris & Lupina

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Lakebed Plantings: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald planted 20 acres of Barley this week in the North Unit of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area for wintering migratory birds. The plantings were in three old agricultural fields in the Shillapoo lakebed, which floods seasonally and provides habitat for thousands of wintering birds in the area as well as hunting opportunities for many people every year.


Streaked Horned Lark Surveys: Biologists Prince and Miller participated in the first round of streaked-horned lark surveys on specified islands in the Columbia River stretching from Kalama to Grays Bay. The surveys are organized by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and are being conducted by WDFW, USFWS, and TNC staff. Some of the islands surveyed contain experimental plots or areas that were disked with different intensities by TNC this winter. Larks are detected by sight and sound and each island will be surveyedthree times during the summer. Lark presence was distributed among many of the islands and seemed to be consistent with last year's findings.

Peregrine Falcons: Biologist Anderson conducted follow-up visits to 4 peregrine falcon nesting territories in the Columbia River. Three of the 4 sites are occupied, two sites appear to be still feeding young, and another site has failed. Additional survey will be conducted over the next two- three weeks to determine the outcomes of all historic sites in the Columbia River Gorge.

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman summarized western pond turtle capture data for the 2009 effort at the Bergen Road site and made comparisons to previous trapping years. The number of western pond turtles captured per day of trapping effort has increased steadily over the years with the introduction of young animals raised in the “Head Start” program. In 2009 an average of 22 turtles were captured per day of trapping at the site. In comparison, just 2 turtles were captured per day during 2002. This increase in the number of animals encountered per day of trapping effort is another indication of the success of western pond turtle management in the Columbia River Gorge.


Goose survey: Biologists Miller and Prince checked the area around Miller Sands Island for dark goose broods. The weather was poor and very few broods were observed. The radio collared goose was detected later in the week and is believed to be at Miller Sands or south of there. Another brood survey will be conducted on June 17th and hopefully more flocks will be observed for the banding project scheduled for the end of June.