RIDGEFIELD – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) with assistance from the Washington Department of Natural Resources will conduct controlled burns at the North and South units of the Shillapoo Wildlife Area in Clark County this fall to remove invasive vegetation and improve habitat for migrating birds. All areas will remain open to the public during burning operations.
Controlled burns will take place Oct. 1 through mid-November as weather and fuel conditions allow on up to 35 acres. Most burning operations will be conducted from late morning to late afternoon. Burn areas range in size from less than an acre up to eight acres.
“This is the first year we will burn larger areas in an effort to create better foraging places to support migrating geese and sandhill cranes,” said Daren Hauswald, wildlife area manager for WDFW. “Using controlled burns allows us to more efficiently remove large areas of invasive vegetation and use less herbicide to control weeds as the heat from the fire sterilizes most seeds in the ground. After the burn, native plants can be replanted and establish quickly as they don’t have to compete with invasive plants.”
Hauswald advises wildlife area visitors to stay at least 300 feet away from burning operations to give crews space to work and to protect public safety. Visitors should expect to see occasional smoke, but it should not impact recreation at the wildlife area other than directly next to the burn locations.
The Shillapoo North and South units, located next to Vancouver Lake northwest of Vancouver, are major stopover areas for migrating waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway as well as important wintering areas for sandhill cranes. The South Unit also has three bald eagle nesting territories. Recreation opportunities include dog training, migratory and upland game bird hunting, and wildlife viewing. The units can be accessed from Lower River Road and Highway 501.
WDFW stewards over a million acres of public land in Washington, which are managed to protect lands and water for wildlife and people. WDFW works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife, and ecosystems providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.