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
TeamVancouver@dfw.wa.gov

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
April 2010

April 26, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Road Grading: WDFW road maintenance crew graded Anderson Road, Old Headquarters Road, and the Sheep Canyon Road, which are on the Soda Springs Unit. In addition, WDFW heavy construction crew placed boulders along the edge of the Sheep Canyon Road. These should help define the boundaries of parking areas and encourage drivers to stay on the road. The boulders were donated by nearby landowners.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Tree Planting: Wildlife Area staff helped plant 400 trees on the Kiona Creek Unit. The local landowner holding the haying agreement purchased these trees as the 2 year old planting along Kiona Creek were accidentally mowed down last year while mowing the hay fields.

Goose Nest Survey chart
The 2010 lower Columbia River goose nest survey took place this week. This year’s survey followed a sampling technique that has been in use in since 1985 to document goose nest numbers on dredged material islands.

GAME DIVISION

Goose Nest survey. The 2010 lower Columbia River goose nest survey took place this week. This year’s survey followed a sampling technique that has been in use in since 1985 to document goose nest numbers on dredged material islands. WDFW was joined by ODFW, USFWS, and several volunteers to locate nests and record several data parameters on the nest and goose. A total of 319 active (incubating and hatched) nests were found, which is a slight decline over the 10 year average. In addition, nest locations were documented to return to later and attempt to capture, band, and radio collar the nesting females.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Holman, Hallock, and Groesbeck continued trapping for western pond turtles at the Bergen Road site. Through 7 days of trapping, 87 captures have been recorded, comprising 60 individual turtles. Trapping is scheduled to continue through April 28.

Golden Eagle Surveys: Biologist Anderson continued with golden eagle surveys in Klickitat County. Out of 5 known territories surveyed to date, only one is known to be currently active and incubating eggs. Four additional historic sites will be surveyed in the next couple weeks to complete the District’s occupancy surveys.

April 19, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Trail Proposal: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins met with Cowlitz County Commissioner Axel Swanson and county staff members to discuss the potential of developing a trail south of SR 504 on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. The original concept for this trail is as a public/private partnership which would link the County’s Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center with Ecopark resort a privately owned facility. Other options including the potential of extending the trail further to the West were also discussed. Because this portion of the Wildlife Area has only been in WDFW ownership for a few months, detailed management planning for the site has not yet occurred. Calkins will be asking the Wildlife Area Citizens Advisory Group as well as staff within WDFW to review and comment on this and other potential management options for the site as planning progresses over the coming year. Land ownership is also a complicating factor with the proposal, and additional land acquisition may be necessary to make construction of the trail possible.

Stabilization Plantings: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, Assistant Manager Hauswald, and Technician Fox led a group of fourteen volunteers in a one day tree/shrub planting effort near the middle of the mudflow portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area where bank stabilization structures were built last summer. The objective of the planting was to expand on the areas planted in the past to provide additional long-term stability and add shrubs to provide food resources for elk and increase diversity on the site. An approximate total of 4,500 trees and shrubs were planted including red and Sitka alder, red-osier dogwood, cascara, salmonberry, and Oregon grape. We would like to thank the volunteers who represented the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Vancouver Wildlife League, and other groups for their hard work and assistance in getting these plants in the ground. This week Hauswald and Fox will add a few hundred more plants in a separate area to finish this year’s effort, which marks the completion of a State Lands Restoration Grant project funded through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

Fairy slippers, a wildflower found on the Hall Road Unit.
Several wildflower species were in bloom in the Hall Road Unit including trilliums, yellow violets, and most notably fairy slippers a member of the orchid family

Hall Road Unit site monitoring: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins walked a portion of the Hall Road Unit of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area behind the old ball field site on SR 504. The primary purpose of the site visit was to select locations for future nest box placement. Beyond the abandoned baseball field, the site contains relatively undisturbed forest stands that transition to scrub shrub wetland communities surrounding the shallow northern portions of Silver Lake. Several wildflower species were in bloom including trilliums, yellow violets, and most notably fairy slippers a member of the orchid family.

Abernathy Creek Unit, Fish Habitat Enhancement Planning: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins attended a coordination meeting with personnel from the Abernathy Creek Technology Center, and others representing Bonneville Power, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board, and other programs within WDFW to discuss ways to facilitate communication among the various entities in planning an enhancement project on WDFW’s Wildlife Area at the creek’s mouth associated with the Lower Columbia River Estuary MOA.One of the most important topics discussed was how public involvement in the process should proceed. The Technology Center Staff were particularly helpful and shared some valuable insight on how to best communicate with the local residents.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Anderson, Holman, and Hallock initiated trapping of western pond turtles at the Bergen Road site. Thirty-four traps have been placed in 4 water bodies. The initial day of trapping recorded 13 individual pond turtles. This work is conducted to generate a population estimate for the site. Trapping will continue for 10-14 days depending on capture success and weather.

Western Gray Squirrel :Biologists Anderson, Labbe, Van Leuven, and Vander Haegen conducted a site review for a proposed timber management plan on a significant western gray squirrel (WGS) site in Klickitat County. This project is important as we have historical information on WGS use at the site 10 years ago associated with a previous logging operation. We are currently assisting Biologist Labbe in developing a 15 year forest practice application that considers WGS habitat needs on the landowner’s property.

Oneida Boat Launch: Assistant District Biologist Prince met with Hansen from the Engineering Department in Olympia to discuss an upcoming State Lands Development grant Region 5 is applying for. Many pictures and measurements of the site were taken to help facilitate an initial design of what potential upgrades to the launch and parking area may look like. These drawings will be submitted as part of the grant application in early May.

April 12, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Watchable Wildlife: Several species of waterfowl can still be seen frequently around the Vancouver Lowlands. Several thousand Canada geese can be seen feeding in pastures and resting on the seasonal wetland ponds, along with dabbling and diving ducks. Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald noticed all three North American species of teal this last week. He also observed a dark plumage drake mallard on one of the ponds. Osprey have also returned to the area this last week with several pairs seen rebuilding nests. Sandhill cranes, Bald eagles, Red-tailed hawks, Great horned owls, and Northern Harriers can also be seen around the wildlife area.

A dark plumage drake mallard A dark plumage drake mallard
A dark plumage drake mallard on one of the Vancouver Lowlands ponds.
Mature forest
Recently acquired land hosts impressive post mature forest areas such as this one on the southern side of the area near Alder Creek
Fence construction
Construction began on a new fence for the property boundary of the Swale Creek Unit

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Forest Habitat Evaluation: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, WDFW Forester Kuehn, and Forest Road Coordinator Tveten spent a day touring and evaluating forest stands on the portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area that was acquired late last year from the Department of Transportation. The trip had two purposes: one was to inventory forest roads and any problems that need to be addressed to meet standards to protect water quality and fish and wildlife habitat; and the second objective was to evaluate forest stand condition and to begin to develop ideas for potential future enhancements which are likely to include timber harvest. In concept, timber harvests would be done to thin the overstory in former commercial forest plantations to allow for reestablishment of understory plants and eventually a more natural condition. Some areas would already be considered to be in relatively good condition and include some impressive post mature forest areas. The photo at right, illustrates one such stand on the southern side of the area near Alder Creek.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Swale Creek: Construction began on a new fence for the property boundary of the Swale Creek Unit this week. Due to rocky soils in some areas, it is necessary to construct rock jacks in place of regular wooden posts. The photo at right shows the crew working on an end brace, at the starting point along the Centerville Highway. Although weather ranged from hail and high winds to sunshine, the crew was in good spirits and has nearly completed 1/4 mile of fence. Manager VanLeuven worked with the crew to provide guidance on construction standards and how to adapt methods as needed in response to conditions.

GAME DIVISION

Monthly elk survey: University of Alberta graduate student Geary completed the monthly survey of elk on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area and observed 225 elk during the survey on April 6th. No elk mortalities were observed in the survey area. There were heavy snow showers during the count with 3 inches of recent snow.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Habitat Management: Biologists Anderson and Holman conducted a site visit and provided input regarding a forest thinning designed to improve habitat for western pond turtles on Forest Service managed land in Skamania County. Additionally, Biologist Anderson attended a meeting with Regional representatives from the Forest Service to view the site and discuss future aspects of the project. The thinning is designed to remove crowded Douglas fir trees and create growing space for Oregon white oak and pines. Additionally, placement of logs into various ponds (for turtle basking), snag creation (for birds, insects, small mammals, and eventually wood recruitment into the ponds), as well as understory burning of debris associated with the forest product removal will all be part of the project. Thanks to the U.S. Forest Service Staff members associated with conducting this project. See the photos below of western pond turtles basking on newly provided basking trees, a large Douglas fir retained during the project, pines retained during the project, Douglas firs scarred for snag generation, and thinned areas around small wetlands.

Pine tree Bergen from the air. Clearing alder
Smith Pond Western pond turtle management
Western Pond Turtle Habitat Management: The thinning is designed to remove crowded Douglas fir trees and create growing space for Oregon white oak and pines. Additionally, placement of logs into various ponds (for turtle basking), snag creation (for birds, insects, small mammals, and eventually wood recruitment into the ponds), as well as understory burning of debris associated with the forest product removal will all be part of the project.

Western Pond Turtle Population Estimation: Biologist Holman began logistical efforts to initiate trapping of western pond turtles at the Bergen Road site. This year’s effort at Bergen will involve a repeat of last year’s mark-recapture population estimation project. Last year, 200 captures comprised of 90 individual turtles generated a population estimate of approximately 105 turtles at Bergen.

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Review: Biologist Anderson met with USFS biologists in the Catherine Creek management area to discuss plans for recreational trails in relation to significant wildlife resources. Primary issues are trail proposals near sensitive wetlands, oak habitat, deer winter range, and closeness to raptor nesting areas, including an active peregrine eyrie. Agreement was made within the group on relocation of one primary trail that will shift current hiking and mountain bike traffic away from the above natural resources.

Watchable Wildlife: Spring means the arrival of some species and the departure of others as birds migrate. Canada Geese are leaving their wintering grounds and heading north. Flocks of several thousand have been observed recently in the lower Columbia River. The birds seem to follow the Columbia to the ocean and then turn north to Canada and Alaska. Ospreys are back inspecting their nests and preparing for breeding season. Several birds appeared this week in the Longview area, tending nests that have been in place for decades in some cases.

April 5, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Upland Waterfowl Pasture Enhancement: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald worked up and seeded a portion of an area to improve goose forage conditions on the Vancouver Lake Unit. The replanting effort is intended to improve the attractiveness of the pasture to geese by providing more palatable plants including legumes. This will be the only pasture area that is completely replanted this year. Some other sites will be over seeded with a grass mixture to improve conditions as well. We have scaled back our replanting efforts this year to address unanticipated levels of weed problems in some of the past plantings and focus on additional pre-plant broadleaf weed control in areas that will be replanted in the future.

Planting willow for river bank stabilization
Stabilization project: Planting willows along mudflow.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Stabilization Projects: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald led a group of 14 volunteers who planted cottonwood and willow cuttings along the edge of the mudflow in the area where stabilization structures were built last summer. The planted trees and shrubs are intended to provide longer term stability to the area and provide better habitat conditions on the site. Next month a second planting effort is scheduled where several species of rooted trees and shrubs will be added to the plantings done over the past two years. Many thanks go to the volunteers’ hard work which resulted in about 3,000 cuttings being planted in one day. The photo at right shows Hauswald and two of the volunteers working on the project.

GAME DIVISION

Elk Surveys: Region 5 Wildlife Program staff Holman and Prince, along with Deer and Elk Specialist McCorquodale and helicopter pilot Haggerman, completed the second round of spring elk surveys in the northern part of the Mt. St. Helens elk herd area. This is the second year of conducting these spring surveys in the second year of the Mt. St. Helens elk herd sightability project. During the surveys, group composition is recorded along with other physical attributes of the groups’ location. Over the past week of surveys approximately 3,600 elk were documented in five GMU's (550, 524, 556, 520, 522) and 17 survey units.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Golden Eagle Surveys: Biologist Anderson initiated golden eagle surveys this week in Klickitat County. Three territories were searched in total. One site had an adult incubating, another site only had one adult in the territory, and the last site had two adults building a new nest. Two of the three sites are in close proximity to active wind power projects and we are monitoring these sites to learn more about golden eagle/wind power interactions.