Biologists will use drone to collect habitat restoration project data at Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area


Kyle Spragens, 360-902-2522
Jane Atha, 360-902-2577

YAKIMA – Starting Sept. 21, scientists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will fly a drone over sections of the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area Headquarters Unit near Mabton for two days to collect information to support habitat enhancement work.

Drone flights will take place exclusively on department-managed lands between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for approximately 30- to 60-minute periods within the two-day window.

“We are working to enhance wetland habitat to benefit waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species,” said Kyle Spragens, waterfowl manager for WDFW. “By using a drone, we can collect imagery and videos to provide important insights about elevation, vegetation, and water conditions at the site, and how we might be able to improve them.” 

Spragens said this project is one of more than 30 wetland enhancement projects funded by the Migratory Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation Program, also referred to as the state Duck Stamp Program. 

The Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area Headquarters Unit is one of several areas in Washington that plays an important role for migratory birds, including waterfowl and shorebirds, that are reliant on a network of wetlands between breeding and wintering areas. Located in the Yakima River floodplain, the wildlife area unit features nearly 13 miles of river shoreline, supporting a variety of fish and wildlife species year round.

WDFW actively manages approximately one million acres of land and over 500 water access areas across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

Persons with disabilities who need to receive this information in an alternative format or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact Dolores Noyes by phone (360-902-2349), TTY (360-902-2207), or email ( For more information, see