Habitat - Wildlife Area Management
Date Published: November 2006
Number of Pages: 102
Author(s): Prepared by Wildlife Area Managers Cindi Confer and Shana Winegeart
The L.T. Murray Wildlife Area Complex is comprised of three individual wildlife areas - the L.T. Murray, the Quilomene, and the Whiskey Dick. Together, the entire L.T. Murray Complex covers roughly 110,000 acres, with approximately 30,000 acres of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands interspersed throughout in a checkerboard pattern. The first parcels of the L.T. Murray Complex were acquired in 1962 when WDFW (then named the Department of Game) purchased 11,180 acres of rangeland along the Quilomene drainage. Subsequent purchases included 17,027 acres in the Whiskey Dick area in 1966, and 343 acres in the Quilomene in 1974. All funding was provided by the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation (IAC). The L.T. Murray Wildlife Area was purchased in 1968 from rancher/logger Lowell T. Murray, and is dedicated in his name. The purchase protected critical winter range for deer and elk, as well as providing and protecting upland game bird habitat. Funding for this purchase was provided by both Federal dollars from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR), and State dollars from the IAC. Between 2004 and 2007, WDFW acquired the 17,382 acre Skookumchuck unit, which is managed as part of the Quilomene Wildlife Area. The property was acquired to provide connectivity between the Whiskey Dick and Quilomene Wildlife Areas, in addition to protecting sage-grouse habitat, critical elk wintering habitat, and endangered steelhead fisheries. Funding for the Skookumchuck purchase was provided by the Washington State legislature, Hanford mitigation funds, Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) and the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) (formerly IAC).
Primary management concerns and public issues identified in the L.T. Murray, Quilomene, and Whiskey Dick Wildlife Areas Management Plan are:
- Preserve habitat and species diversity of fish and wildlife resources
- Maintain or improve conditions for Priority Habitats and Species
- Protect critical elk winter range and upland game bird habitat
- Protect and restore native plant communities
- Control noxious weeds and other undesirable vegetation
- Provide diverse public opportunities to encounter, utilize, and appreciate wildlife and wild areas
- Address litter, poaching, illegal off-road vehicle use, and other enforcement issues
Public recreational opportunities on the L.T. Murray Complex are diverse, including hunting, camping, fishing, wildlife viewing, target shooting, wildflower tours, ATV and snowmobile riding, horseback riding, and hiking. Recently, the wildlife areas have seen a dramatic increase in non-hunting uses such as ATV riding, bird watching, and shed antler collection.
Approximately 2,000 head of elk are fed on the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area each winter to minimize depredation on private agricultural lands. From mid-December until mid-March hay is distributed daily at two feed sites, which provide popular elk viewing and educational opportunities for local school children and interested public.
Wildlife area staff control weeds on 600-1,000 acres annually, and participate in cooperative weed control efforts with the Kittitas County Noxious Weed Control Board. When feasible and necessary, native vegetation is reseeded in areas of recent weed control.
Grant funding is regularly sought to implement habitat restoration and improvement projects, and to supplement wildlife area operation funds.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2006. L.T. Murray Wildlife Area Management Plan. Wildlife Management Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 100 pp.
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