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Olympic-Willapa Hills Wildlife Area Management Plan

Category: Habitat - Wildlife Area Management

Date Published: November 2006

Number of Pages: 74

Author(s): Jim Gerchak



The Olympic–Willapa Hills Wildlife Area encompasses a total of 23 satellite units comprising of approximately 10,430 acres. Individual units were acquired, dating back to the early 1950’s, for their specific benefit for fish and wildlife diversity and recreational significance. These lands include a wide range of important fish and wildlife habitats including riparian, estuarine, freshwater wetland, old-growth/mature forest, upland meadow, and coastal prairie systems. Focus units include Olympic, Wynoochee, John’s River, Chinook, and Chehalis/Hoxit. The primary habitat and recreational management emphasis for each of these units is listed in the table below.

Wildlife Area Unit Management Emphasis
Olympic   Elk winter forage, reduce elk damage in the lower valley
Wynoochee Habitat mitigation, elk winter forage
John’s River Estuary restoration, waterfowl habitat, benefits to wildlife and habitat
Chinook Waterfowl habitat, elk winter forage, restore fish passage
Chehalis/Hoxit Waterfowl habitat and recreation

The primary management concerns and public issues identified in the wildlife are plan are:

  • Improving and expanding the amount of quality winter forage available for elk
  • Improving and maintaining fish populations
  • Managing for waterfowl and species diversity • Protecting and restoring riparian buffer habitat
  • Protecting and restoring estuary and freshwater wetland habitats
  • Providing recreational access that is compatible with fish, wildlife, and habitat protection
  • Controlling noxious weeds
  • Providing habitat management consistent with T&E listed species
  • Managing for upland birds (pheasant release program)

In 2006 WDFW continued its effort to provide quality winter forage for elk. This included mowing approximately 485 acres, fertilizing 400 acres and reseeding 45 acres. These activities occurred at the Olympic, Wynoochee, Anderson Homestead and Chinook units. An additional 20-acre parcel was acquired adjacent to the Anderson Homestead unit in 2006, which will provide critical elk winter forage. Approximately 210 acres received a fall clipping that will provide enhanced migratory waterfowl habitat. This occurred at the John’s River, Chehalis/Hoxit units, and most recent the Chinook unit. Additionally, 90 and 5 acres were disced for waterfowl habitat at the Chinook and Hoxit units respectively. A series of four ditch plugs were installed at the Chinook unit, which will expand the habitat that is available to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

The cross dike at Willapa Wetlands (Potters Slough) was completed in late October and the ring dike will be breached in the summer of 2007, re-introducing approximately 300 acres to tidal fluctuation. This project will have significant benefits for salmon, waterfowl, shorebirds, and marine invertebrates. Construction of the freshwater wetlands on the west side of the highway is also planned to occur during the summer of 2007.

A Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) cost share agreement was submitted for estuary restoration for the John’s River Unit. This project would restore approximately 185 acres of critical salmonid habitat. A capitol-funding request was also submitted for biennium 2007-09 for removing fish passage barriers at John’s River. 

A new “fish friendly” water control structure was installed at the Hoxit unit and a new management regime was created for the enhancement of this freshwater wetland. Three new parking areas were constructed to improve access to the Willapa Wetlands (Potters Slough) and Chinook units. The local user group has embraced the restoration activities and increased access at the Chinook unit.

Efforts to improve winter forage for elk will continue in 2007 along with the enhancement and restoration of waterfowl habitat throughout the wildlife area. Fish habitat will be improved through barrier removal and estuary restoration projects located at John’s River and Chinook units. Riparian buffer restoration will occur at the Chehalis and Chinook Units covering approximately 83 acres and 43,000 native plants.

Suggested Citation:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2006. Olympic-Willapa Hills Wildlife Area Management Plan. Wildlife Management Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 74 pp.