Habitat - Wildlife Area Management
Date Published: November 2006
Number of Pages: 76
Author(s): Jim Olson
The Scotch Creek Wildlife Area is a complex of 5 separate management units located in Okanogan County in North Central Washington State. The project is located within the Columbia Cascade Province (Okanogan sub-basin) and partially addresses adverse impacts caused by the construction of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee hydroelectric dams. The total size of the wildlife area is 16,560 acres.
The core properties to the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area were purchased in 1991 with funding from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. The intent of the purchase was to enhance habitat and recover the declining population of Columbian Sharp-tailed grouse.
The Wildlife Areas were approved as a wildlife mitigation project in 1996 and habitat enhancement efforts to meet mitigation objectives have been underway since the spring of 1997 on Scotch Creek. Over 2,700 acres of degraded rangeland have been restored to a native shrub-steppe habitat and over 100,000 trees and shrubs have been planted to improve the riparian habitat the Prairie grouse depend on in the winter. Also a total of 63 Sharp-tailed grouse from SE Idaho and the Colville Indian reservation in Washington state were transplanted to the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Recent populations estimates of Sharp-tailed grouse on the Scotch Creek unit show a halt to the decline observed since 1960, and have increased every year since 2000. Habitat enhancements and genetic supplementation through augmentation appear to be having a positive effect.
The primary management concerns and public issues identified in the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area Plan are:
- Appropriate use of livestock as a management tool was recommended.
- Weed Control. It is the recommendation of the Okanogan County Noxious Weed Board (OCNWB) that the WDFW, in the interest of good land stewardship and good neighbor relations, provide an aggressive priority approach and adequate funding for noxious weed control for existing and proposed WDFW lands.
- Access and recreation; Protect and preserve sensitive wildlife sites such as active Sharp-tailed and Sage grouse lek sites, all snake dens (during spring emergence), active Bald and Golden eagle nests, state and federal listed plant species, big game wintering areas, etc. from human disturbance.
- Management of wet soils: Concerned about mosquito breeding habitat we are creating by letting the creek flood the area below the HQ. Could be vectors for disease transmission to people or livestock.
The primary goal and specific reason for purchasing the property is to establish a viable Sharp-tailed grouse population on and adjacent to the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area. Other management goals for the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area are to preserve habitat and species diversity for wildlife resources, maintain healthy populations of game and non-game species, protect and restore native plant communities, and provide diverse opportunities for the public to encounter, utilize, and appreciate wildlife and wild areas.
Performance measures completed for 2006 include: 45 acres of native shrub-steppe seeding, built and installed 50 new bluebird nest boxes, Musk thistle controlled on the Chesaw unit which included over 700 hours of hand pulling, held a public auction and surplused 5 buildings on the Happy Hill LLC acquisition (all material was dismantled and removed), monitored all Sharp-tail grouse lek sites, completed the wildlife area management plan, and completed the Tunk Valley unit bridge, road improvements and parking area.
2007 Performance Measures
Performance measures for the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area are listed below. Accomplishments and progress toward desired outcomes will be monitored and evaluated annually.
1) Shrub-steppe restoration. Summer fallow 95 acres with fall dormant seeding of native grasses and forbs on the Happy Hill, LLC acquisition on Scotch Creek (WHIP grant).
2) Riparian restoration. Maintain over 100,000 trees and shrubs previously planted. Include 500 new Water Birch transplants where needed.
3) Deer exclosure fence. Install approximately 2 miles of deer fence to prevent browsing damage to new tree and shrub plants near the Scotch Creek HQ.
4) Continue with weed management plan. Plans for 2007 include 40 acres of White-top, 200 acres of Russian Knapweed, and 20 acres Canadian Thistle on Scotch Creek. 40 acres of Houndstounge and 125 acres of Musk Thistle on Chesaw. 10 acres of Russian Knapweed on Pogue Mountain and 40 acres on Tunk Valley.
5) Restore proper hydraulic function to Scotch Creek below the HQ. Includes dredging a new meandering channel to mimic natural conditions, and a 2-year plan to eliminate the reed canary grass invasion and plant new riparian vegetation.
6) Boundary fence repair and signing. Inspect and repair in early spring as much of the 60 miles boundary fence as feasible on all units. Install or replace wildlife area boundary signs as needed.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2006. Scotch Creek Wildlife Area Management Plan. Wildlife Management Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 76 pp.
Draft documents are provided for informational purposes only. Drafts may contain factual inaccuracies and may not reflect current WDFW policy.