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

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Southwest Washington Wildlife Reports Archives
September 2009

September 28


Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Youth Pheasant Hunt: Although attendance was down, youth who took part in this year’s opening of the youth pheasant hunt found good weather and no shortage of birds. Over two dozen young hunters took part in mentored hunts this year, which is down significantly from previous seasons. The local Pheasants Forever chapter and the Vancouver Wildlife League sponsored separate events for the kids. WDFW extends their thanks and appreciation to the members of these groups that contributed their time to help youth get a safe start to the sport.

In addition on the Klickitat Wildlife Area, birds were released for Youth Pheasant Hunt at the Goldendale Hatchery Unit (40 birds) and the Gun Club Property (22 birds). The Gun Club property is a 480 acre parcel with a nice variety of habitats. Klickitat Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven toured this property with the owner.

Annual Reporting: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins completed the annual report and also entered required information into BPA’s PISCES contract management system. This is an annual requirement that must be completed to maintain our funding contract with BPA. The annual report summarizes accomplishments and challenges encountered during the past contract period October 1, 2008 through September 30 2009. Once BPA approves the report it should be available through their website.

Davis Lake project
WDFW engineers replaced a culvert blown out by flooding, repaired the channel breaches, and removed the sediment that had plugged channels and culverts throughout the unit.
Spears Mill Pond standpipe replacement
Breaches in the road berm and a rotted standpipe prompted CWA staff to replace the standpipe in efforts to restore Spears Mill Pond.

Cowlitz Wildlife Area
Davis Lake Project – Flood Repairs and Ditch Maintenance: The Cowlitz Wildlife Area staff have been working on this project since 2006 but back-to-back flood events set back the work that was already completed. FEMA funds were applied for and secured and the HPA was modified to accommodate the scope of the work needed to complete the project. Due to the changes necessary, the project had to go through the SEPA checklist review process and be approved by both the Department of Ecology and the Corps of Engineer. Once all funding, permits, and approvals were in place.

Spears Mill Pond Standpipe Replacement: The Spears Mill Pond (27 acres) had been losing water for many years and emergent growth was gradually filling in and reducing the availability of open water habitat. The discovery of breaches in the road berm and a rotted standpipe prompted CWA staff to investigate options to restore the pond. CWA staff submitted the SEPA checklist for review. The JARPA and DNS were submitted to all the agencies and the project was approved. This area floods extensively during winter so hopefully flooding will recharge the pond and no pumping will be required. If pumping is necessary, then water will be drafted next summer 2010 in accordance with the water right. Once it is determined that the pond is holding water then the pond will be appraised by the fish program to determine suitability as a warm water fishery.


Hunting Access: Biologist Holman repaired, re-signed, and removed debris from entrance points to forestlands managed by Hancock Forest Management in Klickitat County. Located primarily in the northwestern portion of Klickitat County and situated mostly within GMU 578 (West Klickitat), Hancock allows free, non-motorized public access for hunting on approximately 85,000 acres of forestland. The access points are generally located at gates and are identified by signage related to Hancock’s conduct regulations and WDFW “No Unauthorized Motorized Access – Feel Free to Hunt”.

Game Management Unit Boundaries: Officer Meyers and Biologist Holman posted new signs and removed old signs along GMU boundaries in the Columbia River Gorge area. Specifically, portions of GMUs 568 (Washougal), 572 (Siouxon), 574 (Wind River), and 578 (West Klickitat) were made easier to identify in the field with new signage. Those hunting these units during the 2009 seasons should be aware of significant changes to unit boundaries. The new GMU boundaries feature major geographic features such as rivers and highways. Please check the 2009 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet for details.


Western Pond Turtle: The western pond turtle field staff reports that 77 western pond turtle eggs have hatched at the Klickitat Wildlife Area over the last couple weeks. The Oregon Zoo has received 63 of these animals, which is the maximum their facility can handle over the winter. The remaining juvenile turtles are scheduled to go to The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle by this weekend.

All the western pond turtle nests have been checked and eggs and or young have been removed from the ground. There are still several unhatched turtle eggs so the potential number of turtles available for the head start program should increase. By the end of September, we will have a good idea of how many turtles will be available for release back into the wild next summer.

Tour of Columbia River Islands: District Wildlife Biologist Miller participated in a tour of some islands in the Longview area that are candidates for fish restoration/habitat projects. One of the projects involves Cottonwood Island where USFWS, Cowlitz Tribe of Indians, and WDFW are planning a Columbia White Tail Deer (CWTD) re-location in March of 2010. Another project on Hump/Fisher Island will also need to include some planning to ensure that CWTD movement is not impacted by the creation of a cross island channel. Terrestrial wildlife issues were shared with the group and hopefully the projects can benefit all species.

September 21


Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Toutle River Stabilization Projects: Regional Wildlife Program Manager Jonker and Wildlife Area Manager Calkins met with State Representative Orcutt to visit the stabilization projects on the Wildlife Area where work has been occurring to attempt to stabilize a portion of the remaining mudflow on the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area to protect elk winter range habitat. Calkins explained the rationale behind the project design and the group walked to several of the structures and discussed alternatives that could be considered in the future. A site where recent forage enhancement work was completed by Volunteer Mike Braaten was also visited. Later in the week Calkins was joined by representatives from the regional fisheries enhancement group and the Cowlitz Tribe to visit two future project sites and discuss potential project designs. Construction work on the project now under way is on hold until Mid October to avoid potential conflicts with hunting seasons.

Forage Enhancement: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins applied 2000 pounds of limestone pellets to the “Boulder Flat” forage enhancement site by ATV. This is a continuation of work under a grant project funded by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that began last spring. We hope to have work complete and the site planted by the end of October. Work remaining to be completed includes applying more lime, harrowing the site to control moss, scarifying the soil, and spreading a seed mix over the area. Once the seed germinates, a light application of fertilizer will be applied to enhance growth. Additional fertilizer and lime applications will be necessary in future years to maintain this site and assure long-term success of the project.


Black-tailed Deer Composition Surveys: Biologist Holman along with help from volunteers associated with the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club conducted spotlighting surveys for deer in Game Management Unit 568 (Washougal). Approximately 140 deer were observed during the 5-hour effort. The results of the survey will be pooled with the remainder of the Regional deer composition data and used as an input into the Sex Age Kill population model. Thanks to the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club for their ongoing volunteer support to the Agency.

Collared elk
This cow elk died between April and August of this year and was collared as part of a new population study on the St. Helens elk herd.

In addition, District 10 biologists Miller and Prince conducted a spotlight survey for deer in the Winston GMU 520 this week. Despite three hours of effort, only six deer were found. All of the deer seen were does. This low number was discouraging, but could be a result of the hunter pressure currently in the area. Surveys in the future will be focused on areas with limited human activity to try and get better results.

Collar Retrieval: Biologists Holman and Prince hiked onto the Pumice Plain area of the Mount St. Helens Monument to retrieve an elk collar that was emitting a mortality signal. The cow elk died between April and August of this year and was collared as part of a new population study on the St. Helens elk herd. The hike in to retrieve the collar was approximately 6 miles and the elk died on a rather steep vegetated hill (PumicePlainCollar 006.JPG). No evidence of cause of death was found.

NGO Meeting: Biologist Holman gave a presentation to approximately 35 members of the Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club at their monthly meeting. The presentation featured discussion of new hunting regulations, deer populations, the Mt. St. Helens elk study, and wolves in Washington. The Yacolt Burn Sportsman’s Club continues its ongoing work to facilitate hunting access, coordinate with landowners (Weyerhaeuser), and conduct hunter education courses in Clark County. WDFW appreciates their efforts in this regard and many members of the hunting public benefit directly and indirectly from their dedication to these tasks.


Natural Areas Conference/Beacon Rock: Biologist Anderson assisted Beacon Rock State Park personnel with a field trip as part of the Natural Areas Conference in Vancouver. This international conference brought people together for a week long program on natural areas land management. As part of the schedule, field trips were conducted mid-week to several natural areas in western Washington. Beacon Rock State Park was one of the locations and the field trip focused on old growth, wetlands, talus and invasive weed management. In addition, the group learned about the cooperative wildlife program developed between Sate Parks and WDFW for the management and protection of peregrine falcon and western pond turtle habitat.

The first lateral structure at the upper end of the Toutle River stabilization project area and an associated logjam under construction.

September 14


Klickitat Wildlife Area
Livestock: Wildlife Area Manager Van Leuven responded to a report of trespass livestock near the entrance to Stinson Flat Campground. Ten cows and 4 calves were found bedded down adjacent to the Glenwood Highway. Manager Van Leuven noted ear tag numbers, descriptions of the animals, and brands that all belonged to the same owner. Manager Van Leuven contacted the owner requesting that the animals be removed from the Wildlife Area


Archery Elk Season: Biologist Anderson checked archery elk hunters in the Lewis River unit near Mt Adams. Hunting pressure is very high in the wilderness area as archery hunters were contacted at all access points on the west and south sides of Mt Adams. No reports of elk taken three days into the hunt with little sign and very few elk seen or heard. Other hunters were contacted in the Siouxon unit and no reports of elk taken from those hunters. One cougar was taken in the Lewis River unit.


Mazama’s Pocket Gophers: Biologist Holman compiled historic records of Mazama’s pocket gophers in Clark County. Some records are very old (late 1800’s) and the locations are general, i.e. 10 miles northeast of Vancouver. Other locations are more recent and offer better detail.

A field visit was conducted targeting publically accessible locations within the apparent historic range of the species. Specifically, road easements, parks, and cemeteries were explored for any surface evidence of the gophers. While plenty of activity by moles was detected in these locations, no conclusive evidence of gophers was found.

Eagle Management: A conference call regarding an eagle nest in the approach zone of the Centailia-Chehalis Airport was held this week. Participating were the FAA, USFWS, a consultant to the Centrailia - Chehalis airport, and WDFW. The USFWS is going to allow the take of the eagle nest (under threat to human safety) when new rules under the Bald and Golden Eagle Act are adopted at the end of this month. WDFW will also issue a permit under our rules to allow take of this nest, dependent upon the USFWS issuing their permit. Eric Cummins from Olympia Diversity staff assisted on the call and was very helpful in identifying appropriate mitigation/compensation measures for the loss of this nest location.

September 8


Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area
Eagle Island Design: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins attended a Technical Oversight Group meeting to review potential projects for future work on Eagle Island which, pending a land transfer, will become a satellite of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. The consultant Inter-Fluve has been retained by the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board to lead the planning project that will develop three proposals to benefit Lewis River fish populations for future grant applications.A total of 14 potential projects were reviewed . Portions of three of these were combined into one project concept designed in part to maintain flow to the channel on the north side of the island. This project will be developed by Inter-Fluve to the 90% design level while two others will be brought to a 30% level. Other partners in the process include representatives from the Clark County Legacy Lands Office and the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. At the current time the Tribe is planning to be the sponsor on the first project grant application.

Sediment Management Planning: Wildlife Area Manager Calkins and District Fisheries Biologist Dammers attended a site visit with the US Army Corps of Engineers to discuss two action items they are proposing to control sediment movement in the Toutle River system. Two representatives from NOAA Fisheries were also in attendance. The first site visited was just upstream of I-5 where they would like to reactivate a sump to remove sediment from the lower river before it moves into the Cowlitz. The second site was the sediment retention area just upstream of the existing Sediment Retention Dam that will soon become a part of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area. In this area their plan includes installation of “geotubes” six feet in height spanning the valley to trap sediment in this upstream area. Concerns including movement of fish and impacts to elk and fish habitat were discussed as well as potential ways to address these concerns. The group agreed that regular meetings would be helpful in developing these projects that the Corps hopes to get under way as early as summer 2010.


Hunting Access: Biologist Holman sorted out hunting access issues in GMUs 560 (Lewis River) and 572 (Siouxon). Various landslides, culvert removals, and washouts along with some residential development have combined with road repairs and bridge replacements to change the layout of hunting access in the western portion of these units .Of particular note to interested hunters as the seasons approach include repairs to the USFS 99, 83, and 25 Roads within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and the continued closure of the USFS 54 Road and DNR 1000 Road (due to a huge landslide), which continue to block convenient access to the northwestern portion of the Siouxon GMU. Those seeking specific information related to road and trail access should contact the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters in Vancouver at 360-891-5009 or the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Pacific Cascade Headquarters in Castle Rock at 360-577-2025.

Hunter Access Programs: Biologist Anderson completed a Hunt by Written Permission contract with the Columbia Land Trust (CLT) for ownership they have in the Klickitat River Canyon. This is the first hunting access agreement we have worked on with the CLT and WDFW is pleased to continue our partnership with this organization.

Another landowner in eastern Klickitat County that was signed up in our Feel Free to Hunt program experienced a major fire this summer that burned 98% of his 3,000 acre parcel that was under contract with WDFW. He has requested that we terminate the hunting program until his property rebounds from the fire. He has asked WDFW to help him where possible with a habitat restoration project.