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Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area Management Plan

Category: Habitat - Wildlife Area Management

Date Published: November 2006

Number of Pages: 57

Author(s): Dan Peterson


The Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area (12,460 acres) located in Douglas County, was approved as a wildlife mitigation project in 1992 and was re-approved for operations and maintenance funding in 2006 as part of the Northwest Power Planning Council's (NWPPC) Provincial /Sub-basin Planning Process. This project is located within the Columbia Plateau Province (Upper Middle Columbia Subbasin) and partially addresses adverse impacts caused by the construction of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee hydroelectric dams. Since 1991 ten separate purchases have contributed land to the SFWA. The most recent purchases occurred in 2005. Four separate units comprise the wildlife area: Sagebrush Flat, Dormaier, Chester Butte and Bridgeport.

The SFWA is predominantly shrubsteppe habitat. This habitat is essential to the survival of three listed species: Pygmy rabbit, Greater sage grouse and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse. These species occur year-round on the Wildlife Area. The Area’s units are within the management and recovery zones for each. Population augmentation efforts for the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse have occurred on the area since 2005. Captive raised Pygmy rabbits have been released on to the area in 2007. This will mark its return to Washington after being extirpated in 2002. Wildlife habitat protection and enhancement efforts have been underway since 1995. In the past 12 years WDFW has converted 400 acres of old agricultural fields to native vegetation, planted 10-15,000 trees and shrubs, built sediment control structures in West Foster Creek, and performs annual weed control.

The primary management concerns and public issues identified in the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area Plan are:

  • Protecting and enhancing the areas shrubsteppe habitat.
  • Increasing the quality and quantity of shrubsteppe habitat.
  • Managing to promote the recovery pygmy rabbits, sharp-tailed grouse and sage grouse.
  • Converting former agricultural fields and disturbed sites to native shrubsteppe habitat.
  • Controlling noxious weeds.
  • Protecting and enhancing riparian habitat.
  • Managing for species diversity including shrubsteppe obligates plus state listed species.

In 2006 WDFW began and continued efforts to convert/restore 265 acres of former agricultural fields to native shrubsteppe habitat. Staff planted several thousand trees and shrubs in the West Foster Creek riparian corridor, treated nearly 250 acres to control/reduce noxious weeds and released 2,500 bioagents to help control/reduce the noxious weed Dalmatian toadflax. In April, WDFW released ten Columbian sharp-tailed grouse on the Bridgeport Unit.

2007 will see continued work on our restoration of old agricultural fields. Other major activities will include weed control, planting riparian trees and shrubs, removal of dilapidated interior fences and mundane administrative tasks.

Suggested Citation:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2006. Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area Management Plan. Wildlife Management Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 57 pp.