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Chiliwist Wildlife Area Management Plan

Category: Habitat - Wildlife Area Management

Date Published: November 2006

Number of Pages: 127

Author(s): Dale Swedberg


The Chiliwist Wildlife Area (CWA), approximately 4,889 acres in size, is located in the south-central part of Okanogan County southwest of the town of Malott. There are also approximately 760 acres of federal lands, administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within and adjacent to the boundaries of the CWA. The majority of the CWA is south facing and ranges in elevation from 1000’ ASL to nearly 3100’ ASL on the top of Chiliwist Butte.

As part of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area Complex, Chiliwist and Driscoll Island Wildlife Area are all jointly funded with Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act dollars. The total annual operations budget under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act fund is $24,313 with nonfederal Aid being $135,827 for a total annual operations and management budget of $160,140. This amount includes salary and benefits as well as funds for combined management, including weed control, of Chiliwist, Driscoll Island and Sinlahekin Wildlife Areas. The Department will continue to submit grant proposals and applications and identify other strategies to address unfunded management needs on the Chiliwist Wildlife Area.

Identified as a critical wintering area for mule deer, the lands that now make up the CWA were purchased in 1977 using Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Funds. It is also a fact that Sharp-tailed grouse were in the area when these lands were purchased. Recent information indicates there may still be a small population of sharp-tailed grouse on the area. Historic land use has been rangeland for livestock grazing with some dryland and irrigated farming.

The Chiliwist Wildlife Area is still managed under a grazing permit and sharecropping agreement as it has been since its purchase. The management of cattle grazing is used as a tool to manipulate vegetation to benefit wildlife under the grazing permit. The object is to crop grasses to reduce competition with browse species and remove residual vegetation, which allows easier access to the new growth to benefit deer. There are about 80 acres of irrigated alfalfa and 80 acres of dryland farming. Presently food plots are maintained in the form of dryland spring grains (about 80 acres) and irrigated alfalfa (about 80 acres). These were being farmed and maintained prior to the purchase of the CWA by WDFW. A sharecropper operating under an agreement maintains these food plots.

Private lands border the Chiliwist Wildlife Area on the south, west, and east sides. On the north it is bordered by State land administered by Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These lands are mostly Shrub-steppe rangelands with forested lands at higher elevations. Historically the DNR lands have been used for livestock grazing and timber harvest. These lands are also open to the general public and are subject to heavy use for hunting and other forest related activities (wildlife watching, mushroom picking, wood-cutting, hiking, snowmobiling, ATV riding, etc). DNR currently has grazing permits on the lands that adjoin the CWA. Private lands are managed predominately for livestock rangeland and for agricultural production. However under heavy development pressure, much of the adjacent private properties are being subdivided and sold in parcels as small as 20 acres.

Primary management emphasis will continue to be mule deer winter range including weed control, vegetation manipulation using grazing and dryland and irrigated crop production. Efforts will continue to get funding for fuels management and prescribed burning to restore the historic fire regime.

Primary management concerns and public issues identified in the Chiliwist Wildlife Area Management Plan include:

  • Obtain funding to develop a fuels management and fire regime restoration plan
  • Restoring fire as a keystone ecological process by: 1) reducing density of timber stands through fuels treatment, logging, thinning and 2) prescribed burning
  • Establish an active sharecropper to care for the irrigated alfalfa fields and use the irrigation water which is going into the 3rd year of non-use
  • Survey boundary
  • Build new boundary fence
  • Install boundary signs on fences
  • Continue efforts in revisiting and treating weed infestations and locating and treating new infestations
  • Continue efforts to update and develop new GIS layers for the CWA, depicting weed infestations, roads, fences, watering facilities, wells, springs, streams, cover types, etc.
  • Install pumping vaults

Suggested Citation:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2006. Chiliwist Wildlife Area Management Plan. Wildlife Management Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 126 pp.