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
July 2010

July 26, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
USACOE Grade Building Structures Pilot Project: Pile driving for the “cross valley structure” and island building structures is under way on the sediment plain. The contractor has essentially completed work on the access road and temporary roads on the sediment plain itself. Wildlife Area Manager Calkins worked with Olympia on a press release concerning the portion of the Wildlife Area that is closed to public access until the work is complete. The closure is necessary for public safety as well as the safety of crews working on the project. One of the subcontractor’s employees was life-flighted from the construction site after being struck by a piling that was being positioned for driving. Indications are that he will recover from the injury and be able to return to work.

Herb Robert Infestations: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and RMAP coordinator Tveten took note of Herb Robert during the course of forest road surveys on the North side of the Wildlife Area. Numerous other small occurrences were found and Tveten reported a major occurrence in a remote area near Hoffstadt Creek. Unfortunately, it has become evident that this weed has been present far longer and is much more widespread than we had hoped. We will be consulting with Cowlitz County Weed Management and other WDFW staff on what approach might be appropriate given this new information and the limited resources we have to work with.

RMAP development: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins accompanied WDFW RMAP Coordinator Tveten and Kristi Tausch of DNR on a portion of the forest road survey on recently acquired lands within the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. Few problems needing correction were found and some of the roads that can no longer be accessed by vehicle, due to erosion or other reasons, already meet road abandonment standards. Final development of the Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan will occur over the next few months and will detail which roads will be maintained and which will be repaired or abandoned.

Gate Damage: Sometime over the past week, someone worked a gate hinge pin loose from the 3100 road gate that accesses the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. A piece of a second gate that is open this time of year at the Wildlife Area boundary was also noted as missing. No other damage was noted. From a set of tire tracks it appears that someone drove the length of the Wildlife Area, turned around and left. We should be able to fix the gate within a few days.

Coot
A diverse mix of birds using the wetland and adjacent areas of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area included the Common Snipe, Pied-billed Grebe, Coots (above) and Mallards with broods of young, American Bittern, Yellowthroat, Marsh Wren, Mourning Dove, and Canada Geese

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Wildlife Viewing: While walking a portion of one of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area water control structures near the end of the Erwin O. Reiger Highway, Wildlife Area Manager Calkins spotted a diverse mix of birds using the wetland and adjacent areas. Species identified included Common Snipe, Pied-billed Grebe, Coots and Mallards with broods of young, American Bittern, Yellowthroat, Marsh Wren, Mourning Dove, and Canada Geese. These birds were all seen in the course of about a 15 minute walk without binoculars. As the water level in the wetland recedes over the next several weeks a variety of shorebirds should also begin to use the site adding to the variety.

Clark County Trail Coordination: Vancouver/Clark Parks and Recreation is developing two trail proposals that potentially involve the Shillapoo Wildlife Area or other agency lands in Clark and Cowlitz County. Wildlife Area Manager Calkins took part in a conference call and reviewed a draft proposal for a water trail that would extend from Vancouver Lake to both Woodland and LaCenter. Calkins also attended a site visit to begin plan development for a proposal to WDOT to modify a portion of the Erwin O. Reiger Memorial Highway and develop a loop trail originating at Vancouver Lake Park. Both proposals may benefit WDFW users in a variety of ways and should help us gain better control of some inappropriate uses particularly along the dead end highway.

GAME DIVISION

Band-Tailed Pigeon Mineral Site Monitoring: Biologist Holman completed the band-tail mineral site survey at the Kalama River location. One-hundred-eleven birds arrived at the site during the 7-hour survey. The survey total is below the historical average for the site.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Streaked Horn Lark Surveys: Biologist Miller assisted TNC and USFWS in completing the final round of surveys for larks on the dredge material islands in the Columbia River.

TRAINING

MOCC: Biologist Anderson attended the motorboat operator certification course this week in Region 5. Biologist Miller, in his role as lead instructor for the Wildlife Program, assisted with the MOCC class in Vancouver.

July 19

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Weed Management: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Volunteer Braaten searched the two known knapweed infestations on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area and hand pulled any plants found. At the first site, 42 diffuse knapweed plants were pulled and bagged and at the second only one spotted knapweed plant was found. Through repeated and diligent efforts over the past several years, both infestations have been reduced to only a very small area. At one time, both sites were about ¼ acre in size. Follow up visits will be made to both areas later in the summer, which may include an herbicide treatment at the diffuse knapweed site.

Tree Maintenance: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Volunteer Braaten hand watered approximately 150 coniferous tree seedlings that were planted earlier in the year. While most of our hardwood plantings have done quite well in the past without watering, the conifers including Douglas fir, grand fir, noble fir, Sitka spruce, and red cedar have suffered from dehydration. We believe that this is due to the drier sites where the conifers have been planted as well as competition with grasses for moisture. In addition to watering, we also plan to place wood chip mulch around the plants this year to help retain soil moisture.

GAME DIVISION

Band-Tailed Pigeon Mineral Site Monitoring: Biologist Holman completed the band-tail mineral site count at the Cedar Creek Wildlife Area. One-hundred-twenty-six pigeons used the site on the day of the survey. The number of birds present is lower than historic averages for this site. Band-tail populations are monitored through cooperative, standardized surveys of the mineral sites in Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia with oversight provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Biologist Anderson completed the band-tail mineral site survey along the Wind River. A total of approximately 180 birds were seen using the site. These numbers are less than some of the historical observations at this site, but within a normal range for numbers over the past 10 years.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman led the wildlife portion of an Inter Disciplinary team tour of the Bergen Road site. The ID team included Staff from the Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Underwood Conservation District, and Federal officials associated with fire management in the urban interface. Three-hundred and sixty acres of forest are slated for an elaborate thinning and burning treatment designed to improve habitat conditions and reduce fire danger to nearby homes. Approximately 150 acres have been completed to date. The work is primarily funded by federal fire management dollars, conducted on Forest Service land by DNR inmate work crews with a prescription designed (partially by WDFW) to enhance pond turtle habitat and oak-pine forest.

Sandhill Cranes: Program Manager Jonker assisted the USFWS in conducting a helicopter survey for sandhill cranes on Conboy Lake NWR. Several pairs of sandhill cranes were observed as well as colts and sub adults. In addition, Golden eagles, blue herons, coyotes, and elk were seen during the flight.

July 13

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area
2011 BPA Contract: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins submitted the draft statement of work and budget for fiscal year 2011 to Bonneville Power under our wildlife mitigation contract. The budget for activities next fiscal year is $266,260 and includes a wide range of activities including oak and riparian plantings, ongoing management of wetland plant communities for waterfowl, weed control, and pasture management. In exchange for funding habitat enhancement and operations here and several other sites in the state, BPA receives credit toward their mitigation obligation for wildlife losses associated with the Columbia River Hydroelectric System.

Biologist Anderson conducted a training for USFS seasonal trail personnel on peregrine falcon ecology and human disturbance.
Biologist Anderson conducted a training for USFS seasonal trail personnel on peregrine falcon ecology and human disturbance.
Unusual nest
WDFW was contacted by a landowner who was certain they had a bald eagle nesting in the roof of an unfinished home along the Columbia River.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
New Weeds: Last week Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and Assistant Manager Hauswald met with Angelica Velasquez of Cowlitz County Weed Management to inspect two sites on the Mudflow portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area where Calkins had found what he believed to be two different species of invasive hawkweeds. Prior to the meeting, Calkins and Hauswald collected a few plants in the recently acquired portion of the Wildlife Area near Pullen Creek. Velasquez confirmed that the collected plants were Herb Robert; as Calkins suspected, a Class B noxious weed that invades and outcompetes native herbaceous plants in forest understories. The first hawkweed site visited straddles the WDFW/USFS boundary and was confirmed to be mouse ear hawkweed. Velasquez collected plants at the second site as a microscope was needed to confirm it was yellow (or meadow) hawkweed. Both of the hawkweeds are Class B weeds. Cowlitz County Weed Management has offered to assist with control of the hawkweeds, which are both believed to be limited to small sites on the Wildlife Area. They may also assist with the Herb Robert control, which will involve some coordination with Weyerhaeuser because that infestation also straddles a property boundary. Calkins has since started control of the Herb Robert by beginning to pull plants that had already produced seed along areas where it was most likely to be picked up and transported to other areas. These sites included the edges of a road, a horse trail, and a ditch where it appeared that water had carried seed in the past.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Peregrine Falcons: Biologist Anderson conducted a training for USFS seasonal trail personnel on peregrine falcon ecology and human disturbance. Five members of the USFS seasonal trail staff are conducting public education on select trails in Oregon and Washington discussing natural resource management in the Columbia River Gorge. Of special interest is the development of a new trail at Cape Horn that brings hikers close to a peregrine falcon nest site. Biologist Anderson is working with the USFS to educate their trail staff on bird identification as well as development and placement of a new trial system in relation to the peregrine falcon nest site.

Unusual Nest: Biologist Miller was contacted by a landowner who was certain they had a bald eagle nesting in the roof of an unfinished home along the Columbia River. A site visit was conducted recently and a substantial nest was found in an open wall. The nest measured about 4-5 feet in diameter and there were dark feathers and fecal material found nearby. The nest bowl was approximately 9-11 inches across. No birds were present in the nest or in nearby trees. The location is within in a mile of the Nassa Point and White Island eagle territory. Miller will be consulting with other biologists about this nest.

July 6, 2010

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Corps of Engineers Pilot Project: Wildlife Area staff attended the pre-construction meeting for the US Army Corps of Engineers Pilot project on the Sediment Plain in the western portion of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. The project is intended to accumulate and stabilize sediment in the form of islands, preventing it from moving downstream. LKE Corporation from Washougal is the contractor that will be building the project. Initial work including access improvements and mobilization got under way last week.

State Agriscience Instructors Conference: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins led a tour for a group of 22 high school teachers attending the state agriscience conference in Kelso. The tour made several stops on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area and focused on the techniques we have used to enhance and maintain elk winter range habitat. The very knowledgeable group was impressed with progress we have been able to make given the poor soils we have to work with and Calkins fielded many good questions. This was one of the more interactive tours we have given on this area. This event also marked the retirement of Cal Buker who had been a teacher in the Toutle School District for many years. Cal and his students have helped with a number of projects over the years and he will be missed by WDFW.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) – Wildlife Area staff met Wednesday evening with its local CAG to review this year’s management plan update. Eight members attended the meeting and discussions included last year’s accomplishments, new issues and concerns, and planned activities for the year ahead.

Operation Dark Goose Operation Dark Goose Operation Dark Goose
Operation Dark Goose: This week, biologists from WDFW, ODFW, and USFWS combined with 20+ volunteers captured and banded/collared geese in the lower Columbia River. Operation Dark Goose Operation Dark Goose

GAME DIVISION

Operation Dark Goose: This week, biologists from WDFW, ODFW, and USFWS combined with 20+ volunteers captured and banded/collared geese in the lower Columbia River. The target groups of geese resemble the migrant Dusky Canada Goose whose population is on the decline. The marking program helps WDFW identify these resident birds when they appear at goose check stations and separate them from the migrant birds during population surveys in the fall.

A helicopter is used to coax the flightless birds into a temporary trap of netting that is erected on the sand. Once the birds are caught, they are sexed, aged, banded, and some birds received a colored neck band. The neck bands allow biologists and hunters to identify individuals on the wing and at a distance. This year we caught ~ 140 birds, which is one of the highest numbers since we began this program in the late 90's. The volunteers help transport the birds to the processing area and then help to release them back into the area. This is a great hands on experience for volunteers.

Western Pond Turtle Management, Nest Locations: Program Manager Jonker as well as Biologists Anderson, Holman, and Groesbeck all spent time watching for pond turtles and searching for nests at the Bergen Road site. Several afternoon/evening sessions have failed to result in location of any nests. Five female western pond turtles of suitable size were captured during trapping sessions in April and May. In spite of their known presence, none have been observed on land. However, one western painted turtle was observed nesting, demonstrating that the method has merit.

At the Sondino Ponds site, Volunteers Novak and Slavens along with help from interns associated with the Portland Zoo have located 8 western pond turtle nests. Success at the Sondino site has come from a combination of nest searches as well as following of radio-equipped females. Monitoring of both sites will continue until approximately mid-July.

Habitat Management Issues: Biologist Anderson met with USFS Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area staff to discuss several issues regarding habitat management in the Columbia River Gorge. Issues regarding trail development near a peregrine falcon nest site were discussed as well habitat improvement for western pond turtles in Skamania County. The Columbia River Gorge is seeing a substantial increase in the number of recreationalist and this is putting pressure on sensitive natural resources sites. The USFS has done an outstanding job at involving WDFW in recommendations to protect these natural resource sites.