Habitat - Wildlife Area Management
Date Published: November 2006
Number of Pages: 50
Author(s): Martin Ellenburg and Fred Dobler
The Klickitat Wildlife Area is comprised of several units totaling approximately 14,251 acres. Most of the units share similar elements in habitat and recreational values, but have different management priorities according to the specific character of the unit location. The largest unit, the Soda Springs Unit, is approximately 13,000 acres in size and is managed primarily as a black-tail deer winter range. This unit also provides access to the Klickitat River for steelhead and salmon fishing and supports a strong population of wild turkeys. Deer and turkey hunting are the primary recreational uses of this unit. Western gray squirrels (a Washington State threatened species) are also present and are a priority species for management. Land purchases for the Soda Springs Unit began in 1948 and continued into the 1990’s. The Mineral Springs Unit, Dillacort Canyon Unit, Neth Unit, Fisher Hill Unit, and other smaller parcels are located in the Klickitat River Canyon and serve to protect fish habitat and provide access for fishing. They are distributed downstream from the Soda Springs Unit almost to the mouth of the Klickitat River. Collectively these units encompass more than 800 acres. They also offer limited access for turkey and deer hunting. The Mineral Springs Unit features an old building that has been retained by WDFW as an important communal roosting site for Vaux’s swifts. The Goldendale Hatchery Unit is 240 acres in size (excluding the hatchery facilities) and has been managed as a pheasant release site and for trout fishing. The Sondino Unit, on the plateau adjacent to the Columbia River, now totals approximately 211 acres. This unit is a conservation area managed specifically for western pond turtles, which are a Washington State Endangered Species. Purchases of parcels for this unit began in 1992 and continue to the present.
Management concerns and issues identified by the Citizen Advisory Group are:
- Improve facilities and boat ramp at Stinson Flat Campground,
- Limit camping to specific areas on the Soda Springs Unit,
- Regulate the duration of camping stay, and
- Install gates to better control road use as appropriate to road surface quality and wildlife disturbance.
Wildlife Area Management
- Remove old boundary fences within the current KWA boundaries and
- Conduct additional habitat evaluations to determine suitability for augmentation of the bighorn sheep population.
- Conduct forest thinning project to improve health of stand and reduce fire hazard
- Undertake a prescribed burn regimen to return the forest to a condition natural to the local area
- Perform additional work on the old Icehouse building on the Mineral Springs Unit to protect Vaux’s swift roosting habitat
- Complete road abandonment and repair as agreed in the RMAP
- Return the old Gilliam homestead site to native vegetation
- Pursue other funding for KWA special project needs and
- Retain (rather than sell) the Goldendale Hatchery Unit property for continued recreational use by sportsmen and women.
- Reduce disturbance to wildlife by abandoning some roads and restricting access to portions of the wildlife area by motorized vehicles by placing gates and implementing seasonal closures.
Monitor, survey, and inventory
- Assess value of grazing program for habitat improvement by monitoring changes in plant communities and plant vigor and
- Identify potential improvements to current grazing program.
- Keep the public informed in a timely fashion regarding planned actions that affect user groups and
- Include the public in the decision making process on important issues.
In 2006 at least two segments of roads in the Soda Springs Unit were abandoned to reduce disturbance to wildlife, return the roadbeds to forage plants for wildlife, and improve the quality of the hunting experience by eliminating vehicle traffic in certain areas. In addition, funding was secured for habitat protection and improvement on the Sondino Unit. Volunteers performed streamside planting of native shrubs and trees on the Goldendale Hatchery Unit, along Spring Creek. Wildlife-related recreation continued at the same level, or greater, than that observed in 2005.
For 2007 management priorities are to monitor the effects of grazing to ensure that Wildlife Area objectives are being met, implement a fire hazard reduction program by piling and burning woody debris, perform field work in preparation for the timber thinning project, and complete the 2007 portion of the road maintenance and abandonment plan as agreed to in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources. Work will be done to renew a current grazing lease and re-establish an agricultural lease that expired in 2004.
Continuity and momentum in management of the Klickitat Wildlife Area were set back by the departure of the wildlife area manager in August 2006. A new manager will be selected in 2007. Resuming normal management activities will be a high priority for the wildlife area during this year.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2006. Klickitat Wildlife Area Management Plan. Wildlife Management Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 50 pp.
Draft documents are provided for informational purposes only. Drafts may contain factual inaccuracies and may not reflect current WDFW policy.