WDFW LogoWashington Department of Fish & Wildlife
  HELP | EMPLOYMENT | NEWS | CONTACT  
WDFW LogoAbout WDFW

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

Click here
for Directions

 

Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
June 2010

June 28, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Annual Contract: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins began work on preparing the annual Statement of Work in BPA’s on line system. The task generally takes a week or more to complete each year and is required to maintain the funding we receive for operation of the wildlife area under BPA’s wildlife mitigation program.

Wetland Draw Downs: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald have spent a considerable amount of time over the past two weeks monitoring and managing water control structures to drawdown water levels in managed wetland areas in the Vancouver Lake Unit. Wetland basins are generally kept as full as possible until June each year to discourage the growth of Reed Canary grass, which competes with desirable native vegetation. The native plants we target generally germinate and grow under warmer conditions and the later drawdown can actually give them a competitive advantage over the undesirable grass.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Corps of Engineers Pilot Project: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins attended a public meeting sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding their approach to managing sediments originating from the debris avalanche area of Mt. St. Helens. Following the initial presentation of ideas on the table and the pilot project on WDFW lands that will begin in a few days, questions and comments were taken from the audience. The comments and questions covered a broad range of topics, ideas, and concerns from areas near Kelso/Longview all the way up the watershed to the slopes of the volcano.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Bluebird Nest Box Survey: Manger Van Leuven conducted a Bluebird nest box survey. Of 19 nest boxes that are serviceable, 10 were occupied by western bluebirds, 1 was occupied by tree swallows, 1 was occupied by a slender-billed nuthatch with eggs, 2 contained dead birds, and 5 were unoccupied. The dead birds were bluebirds; one appeared to be an adult, and the other box contained 3 desiccated nestlings. The bluebirds are doing very well; of the boxes inspected, brood sizes were 4 chicks each. Two of the nest boxes were totally destroyed by porcupines and some of the others had been chewed on.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Peterman Hill Unit: Green Diamond Resources, DNR, WDFW Habitat Program Staff, Tacoma Power, and Manager Grabski met on the Peterman Hill Unit to go over this year’s Road Maintenance and Abandonment Planning (RMAP) projects and priorities. RMAP projects are shared funding between Tacoma Power, WDFW, and Green Diamond on the Peterman Unit due to agreements written into the Cowlitz Hydroelectric Project.

GAME DIVISION

Goose Banding: Biologist Miller traveled to central Washington to assist Waterfowl Specialist Moore with her banding operations. This was a new capture technique for Miller, catching birds in park like settings with panels to control the birds that are flightless at this time. Many citizen volunteers made the project go well and it was a very nice "hands on" experience for kids as well as adults. This effort is aimed at examining population changes on resident nesting birds in Eastern Washington.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Peregrine Falcons: Biologist Anderson conducted a survey for peregrine falcon breeding at Beacon Rock State Park as part of a WDFW/State parks management plan. This cooperative effort has taken place since 1996 when peregrine falcons returned to Beacon Rock for nesting. At issue is the falcon's nest in relation to a technical rock climbing area favored by the recreation community in the Columbia River Gorge. WDFW is responsible for monitoring the site to determine peregrine falcon activity in relation to the seasonal closure for rock climbing. It is expected that Beacon Rock will be open again to climbing sometime after July 15th. Additional peregrine falcon breeding sites are being monitored by USFS biologist and volunteers in the Columbia River Gorge. Biologist Anderson is assisting with coordinating these surveys this field season.

June 21, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Citizen Advisory Group Tour: Eleven individuals attended a tour for the Shillapoo Wildlife Area advisory group led by Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, Assistant Manager Hauswald, and Program Manger Jonker. This was an opportunity for us to provide examples and explanation on the ground of a variety of projects we have been working on for several years as well as an opportunity to illustrate and discuss a potential major shift in management direction. Evening was a perfect time for the event with a variety of wetland bird calls and howling coyotes as a backdrop to the conversations. Sites visited included two completed and functioning wetland enhancements, a waterfowl pasture planting/weed control site, and an Oak Habitat planting. While most of these sites showcased past work, the most interesting topic of discussion was the potential option of creating a direct hydrologic connection between the Columbia River and areas that currently are behind flood protection levees. WDFW will be studying the feasibility, potential benefits, and possible impacts of this type of system over at least the next year with the cooperation of the US Army Corps of Engineers as part of an effort to enhance habitat for out migrating juvenile salmon in the lower river. The complicating issue is devising a method to predict the resulting plant communities and ultimately how habitat quality for waterfowl, Sandhill cranes, and other species that have been emphasized in the past will be effected.

Pond
This small pond is typical of the ponds in the vicinity of the Grayback and Sheep Canyon Roads, and as of this week, all support lots of tree frog tadpoles.
Bluebird nest box damaged by porcupine.
In the process of inspecting the WDFW rangeland, Van Leuven found a badly damaged bluebird nest box. Upon closer examination, teeth marks in the plywood gave away the true culprit . . . a porcupine. Although it is known that porcupines like to eat plywood, Van Leuven has never seen a bluebird box eaten like this one.

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Grazing: Wildlife area Manager Van Leuven checked on the grazing permit area where all cattle were moved off the WDFW range on the last day of the permit, June 15. Van Leuven inspected the grazed area and took photos of key features. Most of the area was lightly utilized relative to the amount of forage available. Several seasonal ponds still contained plenty of water, and the water troughs were full. The small pond pictured at right is typical of the ponds in the vicinity of the Grayback and Sheep Canyon Roads, and as of this week, all support lots of tree frog tadpoles. Most years, these ponds are dry by now.

In the process of inspecting the WDFW rangeland, Van Leuven found a badly damaged bluebird nest box. Upon closer examination, teeth marks in the plywood gave away the true culprit . . . a porcupine. Although it is known that porcupines like to eat plywood, Van Leuven has never seen a bluebird box eaten like this one.

GAME DIVISION

Brood Surveys: In preparation for next month’s banding effort, biologists Miller and Prince checked for broods of dark colored geese around Miller Sands Island in the Lower Columbia River. Dark colored geese are targeted for banding in an effort to differentiate resident dark geese and the highly regulated Dusky Canada Goose that winters in the area. Many groups of light colored geese (Western Canada geese) were seen in the area and were already well into their molting process. No light or dark broods were seen and the dark birds seen were still able to fly meaning they have not molted yet. Banding is done when the birds are molting and cannot fly. Birds are run into a catch pen by a small helicopter and then banded and released. This year’s banding effort (Operation Dark Goose) will take place in early July.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Sandhill Crane Survey: Biologist Anderson conducted a coordinated sandhill crane survey with USFWS personnel at Conboy NWR. Several nesting pairs appear to be late this year as a few pairs are still on eggs. Mid June is typically late for any hatching of young but it appears that this year’s abnormal weather pattern has delayed some pairs. Water levels are still above normal, which generally reduces mammalian predation and favors successful nesting.

June 14, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Citizen Advisory Group Tour: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, Assistant Manager Hauswald, and Program Manager Jonker accompanied several members of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area Citizen Advisory Group on a tour of portions of the Wildlife Area. Portions of the original part of the Wildlife Area were visited but the trip focused mainly on the new portion acquired last Fall. We focused on providing examples of the different types of habitat, opportunities, and challenges we have with regard to future management of this area. Though out the day, the group was asked to provide scoping topics that they feel we should be addressing as we develop specific plans for the new 3800+ acres.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
ERTG tour: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins took part in a tour of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area staged for the Lower Columbia River Expert Regional Technical Group related to potential Estuary MOA Projects on the Wildlife Area. The panel is tasked with trying to evaluate potential fish survival benefits with potential projects here and other sites along the river. This was a good opportunity to discuss the management direction we have taken to date, the potential shift to an open flowing system, and the possible benefits and concerns related to both approaches and how they might be evaluated.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan (RMAP): Assistant Manager Vanderlip attended the annual Pacific Cascade Region water resource inventory area (WRIA) meeting. The meeting consisted of regional RMAP accomplishments, priorities, and information exchange.

Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP): Manager Grabski met with Olympia HCP planning staff to review inventory data for the Wildlife Area plan. Data was reviewed for all the Wildlife Area units and included current and past habitat projects, boundary lines, road maintenance issues, weed control efforts, and physical structures.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Conboy NWR CCP: Biologist Anderson participated in the Conboy National Wildlife Refuge CCP field trip to plan for public use and recreation. This was the preliminary meeting with primary stakeholders to discuss issues to be addressed in the scoping document regarding all aspects of public use on the refuge for the next 15 years. Additional meetings will be planned during the next year to review these issues and generate public comments on USFWS proposals.

TRAINING

MOCC: District Wildlife Biologist Miller, in his role as an instructor in the MOCC program, participated in a class in Olympia this week. Students from the Wildlife and Fish programs made up the majority of students with a couple of DNR LE employees rounding out the group. This class helps our employees understand the legal requirements for vessels and helps improve safe boat operations on the water.

Swale Unit fencing
Progress continues on the last two runs of fence line totaling about 1.1 miles long of the Swale Creek Unit fence.
Velvet lupine
Velvet lupine
The weather has been unusually wet, and the growing season for most range plants is effectively extended including Velvet lupine, one the species found in the vicinity of the Swale Creek Unit.
Goose egg and nest
Goose nest
This nest is a site where WDFW staff captured and collared the adult female bird in order to monitor her movements and to aid in capturing her and her brood in July.

June 7, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Klickitat Wildlife Area
Swale Creek Unit: Progress continues on the last two runs of fence line totaling about 1.1 miles long of the Swale Creek Unit fence. The south end brace of the last section, which is about 0.3 mile long down a fairly steep hill, was completed (KWA-SwaleFence.JPG) and a gate at the end of the fence was constructed as well.

The weather has been unusually wet, and the growing season for most range plants is effectively extended. Velvet lupine is one of at least three species of lupine found in the vicinity of the Swale Creek Unit. This species always blooms later than most of the others and is the only one that has cream-colored flowers and silvery foliage in its normal form. Rain fell throughout the day at the Swale Creek Unit on June 2, and the plant shown in photo collected much water on its hairy leaves, giving it a white appearance and contrasting with most of the other plants.

Grazing Monitoring: Cattle were all moved from the North Breaks grazing subunit across the Glenwood Highway to the Grayback subunit. Water troughs were checked and repairs to the fences in that area were made. With the regular rains being received, the grass is 14 to 18 inches tall on the Grayback grazing subunit. This is an above-average year for forage production.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Hallock, Groesbeck, and Holman completed the trapping sessions for western pond turtles at the Bergen Road and Pierce Refuge sites. Results were favorable at the Bergen Road site where 21 days of trapping with 34 traps in 4 water bodies produced captures of 105 individual pond turtles and a total of 291 captures (many are captured on multiple occasions). At Pierce Refuge, results were very modest. Nine days of trapping with 24 traps produced the capture of just 11 individuals and 18 total captures. The robust trapping data from 2009 and 2010 will be evaluated by Staff from Science Division and used to develop an estimate for the overall population of western pond turtles at the Bergen Road site.

A total of 74 western pond turtles have been captured as part of the WDFW/Woodland Park Zoo Society sponsored project at Sondino Ponds in Klickitat County. Continuing wet and cool weather has delayed location of nesting western pond turtles to date.

Most nesting should take place after the second week of June. Despite the cold spring, we now have a total of 24 working transmitters for the upcoming nesting season. 18 of these are almost a year old transmitters and with their battery life close to the end. These transmitters were installed in 2009 and are still working a year later.

GAME DIVISION

Dark Goose Project: Biologists Miller and Prince and volunteers Jarvis and Howell re-examined 27 dark goose nests that were documented during the April goose nest survey. The nests were plotted from GPS waypoints taken by the survey crew and examined to determine nest fate. The nest was opened up and the numbers of hatched, abandoned, destroyed, and predated eggs were documented. It is a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle; piecing together the egg fragments to estimate the number of eggs in each category. Eighteen of the nests examined had at least one hatched egg. The nest in the photos is of a site where WDFW staff captured and collared the adult female bird in order to monitor her movements and to aid in capturing her and her brood in July.