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 Report Archives

Southwest Washington Wildlife Report Archives
September 2011

September 26

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Monitoring: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins conducted three weed surveys in pasture and grassland habitats. This is the second year of data collection on the permanent transects to monitor for trends over time. Another transect intended to measure weed changes in a future pasture rehabilitation site was established earlier this year. Already some interesting observations have been made as a result of the sampling. For example, tansy ragwort appears to be more prevalent in grazed pasture sites and almost absent in areas managed by mowing and tiesel, which is a weed, appears to be more prevalent in the mowed sites. One site that is managed more or less passively had fewer weeds overall this year, which we presume to be due to the prolonged high water that may have killed some of the perennial weeds. Calkins also established new photo points of five tree planting sites that will be revisited at least every five years and assessed initial planting survival in two of the plantings. One of these sites had a 78% survival rate and the other did quite well with 93% survival of planted bare root stock.

Annual Report: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins began work on the annual report required under WDFW’s contract with Bonneville Power who funds all operations on the Shillapoo Wildlife Area.

Field Activities: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald sprayed two pasture areas on the North and South Units to control broadleaf weeds and mowed portions of some of the field areas on the Vancouver Lake and South Units prior to the youth hunt this weekend. Hauswald also had gravel delivered to two areas to facilitate getting to work sites during the wet season. Technician Boylan worked on clearing out fence stiles and opening interior gates throughout the Wildlife Area to provide hunter access and posted regulatory signs at dozens of locations.

Watchable Wildlife: Sandhill cranes have arrived in the area, which is along their migratory pathway. Some of the birds will winter in the area but most, after resting and feeding for about two to three weeks will move further south for the rest of the winter. With the very late corn harvest this year, the birds may not be in the usual locations and have been seen largely in pastures so far where they feed on grass, weed seeds, and invertebrates.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Mossyrock Field Rehabilitation: CWA staff tilled, harrowed, and seeded a 3-acre section of field on the Mossyrock Unit. This is a small portion of a much larger field that had become inundated with horsetail and reed canarygrass. Improving the drainage of the soil on the upland portion by tilling should help to control the horsetail and allow the grasses to be more productive.

Swofford Pond Trail: CWA staff, with the assistance of a DNR inmate crew, cleared brush and fallen trees from the 1.5-mile trail that follows the south shore of Swofford Pond.

Mossyrock Moist Soil Management: CWA staff, with the assistance a DNR inmate crew, cleared brush and grass from the ditches that supply the water to the ponds on the Mossyrock Unit maintained for wintering migratory waterfowl. In addition, the dikes were brushed out and one 2-acre pond bottom was mowed in preparation for tilling the bed. This year the pond was completely dry and provides a chance to expose the seed bank and improve the diversity of the aquatic plant community. This project is ongoing and the crew will be out for at least another week if the weather cooperates.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Pheasant Release: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven released pheasants at 3 sites in Klickitat County: 38 birds were released at the Hatchery Unit, 21 birds at the Gun Club property, and 11 birds at the Finn Ridge Rd. property.

Wishram 2 Fire: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven met with a local rancher who was affected by the Wishram 2 Fire to inspect the condition of the range normally used for spring cattle grazing, and to discuss WDFW's ability to provide a short-term substitute pasture next spring. Manager Van Leuven also went to the Farm Service Agency in Goldendale for additional information on range plant surveys, estimates of forage production, etc.

GAME DIVISION

Black-tailed Deer Annual Productivity Surveys: Biologist Holman and 5 volunteers from the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club conducted one evening of spotlight surveys for deer in Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal). Conditions were favorable but only approximately 60 deer were located and classified during the 5-hour effort. Additional surveys will be conducted and data will be compiled for inclusion in the annual Pittman-Robertson report and incorporated into the Regional Sex, Age, Kill population estimation model for black-tails. Thanks to the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club for their ongoing efforts to promote hunting access, hunter education, and aid in wildlife surveys.

Elk Parts Collection: District Wildlife Biologist Miller worked on final preparation of materials for drop off sites for the St Helens Elk parts program in conjunction with University of Alberta. Drop off locations will be established at several locations next week in anticipation of early muzzleloader permit hunters harvesting cow elk and submitting the parts.

Cougar workshop: Region 5 staff attended the all day workshop on cougar issues with other Westside staff. Results of research were very informative to understanding cougar management statewide.

Private Lands Access
St. Helens Land Access Program: Wildlife Program Manager Jonker, Biologist Stephens, and Technician Pyzik conducted a volunteer orientation in Vancouver for individuals interested in facilitating additional weekday motorized access on the Weyerhaeuser St Helens tree farm during special elk permit seasons. The orientation is mandatory for those who are interested in volunteering with this program. An additional orientation will be held on Oct. 26th, 6 pm at the Cowlitz PUD in Longview. Those interested in participating can sign up for orientation and specify their availability at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/sainthelens/

Field Activities: Technician White installed and maintained signs on Western Pacific Timber lands, Hancock timberlands, private cooperators, and pheasant release sites in Klickitat County.

Western pond turtle enst.
Paritally opened western pond turtle nest.
Post timber harvest site.
Timber harvest site on Western gray squirrel habitat.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Stephens and Holman along with Woodland Park Zoo employee Novak extracted the eggs from the final western pond turtle nest at the Sondino site. Six nests were located this year by a combination of efforts by the Woodland Park Zoo and volunteers Kate and Frank Slavens. Thirty-four eggs have been secured from the 6 nests. Additionally, 46 juvenile western pond turtles were captured by hand during April and May. Please see photo at right of a partially opened western pond turtle nest.

Western Gray Squirrel Management: Biologists Stephens and Holman conducted a post-timber-harvest site visit to a site in Klickitat County. The Priority Habitat and Species Guidelines were not fully implemented for this harvest and no formalized habitat management plan was developed. However, WDFW Wildlife Biologists did inventory the site prior to timber harvest and negotiate a retention tree arrangement that turned out favorably for the squirrels. Please see photo at right of part of the harvest area.

September 19

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Corps of Engineers Sediment Management: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and District Fish Biologist Dammers attended a field meeting with USACOE staff, NOAA Fisheries, and the Department of Ecology at the Sediment Retention Structure on the North Fork Toutle River to discuss their current proposal to raise the dam’s spillway. Their intent in raising the spillway is to create additional sediment storage capacity upstream to reduce flood risk to communities along the lower Cowlitz. The proposal would create impacts to salmon spawning and rearing habitat as well as cause additional losses of critical elk winter range in the upper North Fork Toutle watershed. The Corps hopes to move forward with a ten foot spillway raise as early as next summer. The discussions among the group included fish passage, water quality, as well as habitat impacts. This meeting was the first time that the Corps’ staff brought up the topic of how to offset impacts to fish and wildlife. Ideas in this regard included protecting the lower reaches of two key tributaries, enhancement in tributary streams, habitat planting, and acquiring additional lands. Both WDFW and the Corps hope to establish a technical committee to begin to address these issues in both the near and longer term as a potential for a thirty foot raise of the spillway is still under consideration.

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Operations and Field Activities: Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald focused some time on completing several purchases so that items will be received prior to the end of our current contract period. He also made arrangements for repair of our 3-point sprayer and the one ton flatbed which now, after several repairs since receiving this surplus truck, should be ready for service and will save us a considerable amount of time when transporting materials. Habitat Technician Boylan continues to make progress on the North Basin Fence and spent some time clearing hunting access points.

Large bull elk seen in Mt. Rainier National Park
Large bull elk seen in Mt. Rainier National Park

GAME DIVISION

Mt. Rainier National Park Elk Survey: Statewide Deer and Elk Specialist McCorquodale, Wildlife Area Manager Calkins, and Biologist Holman conducted an aerial survey of elk in the southern portion of Mt. Rainier National Park. This survey is one piece of a cooperative effort with the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), WDFW Region 6, as well as the Puyallup and Muckleshoot Tribes. This survey concludes the fourth year of development of a protocol for conducting elk population inventories in both Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Parks. USGS has the lead on protocol development. Establishment of this method of monitoring will be used among other sources of information in the generation of the South Rainier Elk Herd Plan. Photo at right of a particularly large bull elk in Mt. Rainier National Park.

Private Lands Access:
Sierra Pacific: Biologists Miller and Stephens met with Sierra Pacific Industries tree farm manager Mr. Armstrong about the possibility of entering into a hunting access agreement with WDFW on the Ryderwood Tree Farm. Miller and Stephens presented the benefits of such an agreement and Armstrong discussed the problems the farm encounters as a result of the public using their land.

Longview Timber: Biologists Anderson and Stephens met with Longview Timber employees Mr. Stover and Mr. Monhan to discuss the possibility of supporting a hunting access agreement on Longview Timber’s block in Skamania County. Anderson and Stephens conveyed how an agreement with WDFW may help manage vandalism, ATV use in unauthorized areas, and other violations resulting from public use of their land.

Wildlife watering facility.
Chorus frog
Biologists repaired a wildlife watering facility where several chorus frogs were found to be using the structure as a cover during the hot days.

Repair: Biologist Stephens and Technician White repaired a wildlife watering facility at a pheasant release site east of Goldendale. The structure was found to be partially collapsed during a site visit with the landowner last week. Several chorus frogs were found to be using the structure as a cover during the hot days.

New Position Orientation: District Wildlife Biologist Miller and Private Lands Biologist Stephens met with Law Enforcement Detachment 4 to discuss the Private Lands program and potential new sites for waterfowl and pheasant hunting areas.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Cascade Carnivore Project: Biologist Anderson and Jocelyn Akins, PHD student at University of California Davis, placed two wildlife camera stations in the South Cascades as part of the Cascades Carnivore Project. The focus of the project is to survey mid to high elevation sites across the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the Indian Heaven, Mt Adams, and Goat Rocks Wildernesses.

Surveys have been conducted at over 90 remote camera stations to collect genetic samples and determine the presence of forest carnivores in the West and East Cascade ecoregions. The focal species of the study, the Cascade red fox has been detected on 51 occasions at 13 stations, and the wolverine detected on 12 occasions at 11 stations. Over 80 Cascade red fox hair and scat samples have been collected and are being analyzed at the Canid Diversity and Conservation Laboratory, University of California Davis.

Priority Habitat and Species (PHS) Recommendations: Biologist Holman reviewed the draft PHS management recommendations of great blue herons. The document has been prepared by PHS Biologist Azerrad and the internal review period is now completed. The document will be out for external peer review in the fall of 2011.

September 12

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Shillapoo Wildlife Area:
Administrative Tasks: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins completed the annual accounting for in lieu services received in compensation associated with our agricultural and grazing permits. Work documented on the part of the permittees included mowing, weed control, fence repairs, and crops left in the field after harvest for waterfowl food. Calkins also entered WDFW’s FY 12 contract into CAPS and took our BPA contracting officer on a site visit to highlight some of the past year’s accomplishments.

Vancouver Wildlife League Meeting: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins attended the recent meeting of the Vancouver Wildlife League at their Presidents request to answer questions about the Discover Pass. The members had a number of pointed questions primarily relating to the application of the Pass on DNR and State Park lands. Staff observed at least one of the members in the office the next day purchasing his pass for use while deer hunting on DNR lands.

Field Activities: Habitat Technician Boylan finished building stretch braces on the first half of the North Basin Fence Project and started stretching wire. The first 0.1 mile is now 100% complete. Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Hauswald has been splitting his time among several activities including treatments to control Canada Thistle in pastures, Purple loosestrife control, and pasture mowing. Hauswald reports that the number of loosestrife plants is down about 85 percent in an area we have been monitoring closely for six years.

Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area:
Hunting: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins sent letters, maps, and keys to disabled hunters for their mudflow hunt that begins on the 19th. Weyerhaeuser has allowed WDFW to provide vehicular access to this group since the hunts began several years ago. Staff have also been fielding calls from the other hunt groups in this Elk Area as well as the Margaret and Toutle Units. Most recently the calls have focused on the closure of Weyerhaeuser lands to all public access due to fire danger. As of the most recent update the 4100/4200 corridor to the DNR Toutle Block remains open, but hunters should check daily on the status of this route for any changes. This route provides access to state owned portions of the Toutle GMU as well as the southern portion of Elk Area 5099 (Mudflow).

Fish habitat enhancement project on Eagle Island.
Fish habitat enhancement project on Eagle Island.
Fish habitat enhancement project on Eagle Island.

Eagle Island Satellite Unit:
Fish Habitat Enhancement: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins visited the construction site of the Eagle Island Site fish habitat enhancement project being built by the Cowlitz Tribe. This is what is envisioned to be the first of several similar projects on this unit to enhance salmonid rearing habitat. The project in a side channel of the Lewis River includes the installation of several apex bar jams and habitat structures along the banks of the channel. The photosat right provide an overview of the project site and the largest structure at the upper end of the channel.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Peterman Hill Temporary Road Closure: Wildlife Area staff have temporarily closed the roads on Peterman to unauthorized vehicular access. This is in response to the current weather conditions and the associated extreme fire danger. Archers and other recreating individuals can still access the area using non-motorized means. However, the surrounding timber company lands are closed to all public access. As soon as the conditions improve, the roads will again be opened.

GAME DIVISION

Private Lands Access: Biologist Stephens and Technician White met with Hancock Forest Management to discuss renewal of their hunter access and habitat enhancement contract. Hancock indicated they are interested in renewing the contract. They expressed concerns regarding vandalism to gates and signs and the use of ATVs in unauthorized areas. Hancock was interested in WDFW’s offer to plant grass seed on roadsides and landings to increase forage for wildlife and prevent erosion. They indicated that in the past they had observed deer and bear using areas seeded by WDFW.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologists Holman and Hallock prepared and submitted an article highlighting efforts to manage western pond turtles in Washington State for the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation “Year of the Turtle” newsletter. The article is featured in the September issue and is found among contributions from other authors discussing pond turtle management in California and detailed distribution maps for the species. Please find the newsletter at the following website: http://parcplace.org/news-a-events/year-of-the-turtle.html

Sandhill Cranes: Biologist Anderson compiled all field observations for sandhill crane surveys and submitted them to the USFWS Conboy NWR for entry into their master data base of locations.

Klickitat River Hatchery Proposal: Biologist Anderson conducted a second site visit to the Wahkiacus hatchery site to map western gray squirrel habitat and further evaluate wildlife habitat impacts associated with the project. Comments from the wildlife division will be provided to the fisheries staff as part of the environmental impact statement review.

September 6

REGION 5 WILDLIFE AREAS

Cowlitz Wildlife Area:
Weed Control: Wildlife Area staff conducted herbicide applications to three Japanese knotweed populations on the Kosmos and Mossyrock Units. A follow-up to an earlier application was conducted on the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery Unit to target scotch broom that was missed during a previous application last month. A stand located on the Swofford Pond Unit was also treated. Future applications will be targeting perennial pea in the fields on several of the Wildlife area units.

Hunter Education: Fish and Wildlife Enforcement and the Cowlitz Wildlife Area staff held a two day hunter education class. Officer Sympson who was very active in Hunter Education at his previous enforcement station in Virginia, suggested we hold a two day class and provide the students with lunch. Officer Sympson then canvassed the local businesses for food donations, who were very generous, and we were able to supply the students not only with a great educational experience but with lunch both days. The class had thirteen students with 12 of them successfully passing the written test, skills evaluation, and live shoots. The students in this class were outstanding, producing some of the best test scores we have seen this year.

Klickitat Wildlife Area:
Sheep Canyon Road:  The SEPA review was completed for the seasonal closure of Sheep Canyon road for conservation and protection of habitat. The new gate on the Sheep Canyon Road has been installed and Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven cleaned up and repainted the new road gate.  The sitewas rehabilitated from the excavation work by replacing rocks and vegetation.

GAME DIVISION

Landowner Access: Biologist Anderson met with Biologist Stephens and White to discuss implementation of the Lands Access program for District 9. A list of contracts and landowners were reviewed for determining a prioritized list of tasks for the upcoming fall winter period. Along with existing contracts, the potential for new landowner cooperators were discussed.

DIVERSITY DIVISION

Western Pond Turtle Management: Biologist Holman met on-site with the Skamania County Weed Control Staff at the Bergen Road western pond turtle site. The County weed crew will spend a few days spraying for invasive plants and weeds including blackberry, Scotch Broom, knapweed, thistle, and tansy. This chemical application follows mechanical treatments on extensive areas of the site by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Inmate Work Crews. Additional work was conducted earlier this summer by the Skamania Forest Youth Success Program who removed derelict fencing and fenced burn piles to exclude overwintering turtles. Tasks scheduled for this fall include covering piles for winter burning, meadow mowing, and mechanical removal of blackberry and Scotch Broom stems. This work takes place on U.S. Forest Service owned land within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Thanks to the many cooperating agencies and programs for their cooperation and hard work to maintain and enhance western pond turtle habitat at the Bergen Road site.