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Draft North Olympic Wildlife Area Management Plan

Category: Habitat - Wildlife Area Management

Date Published: January 2010

Number of Pages: 90

Author(s): Prepared by Kyle Guzlas, Wildlife Area Biologist


The North Olympic Wildlife Area (NOWA) consists of a habitat mix of estuarine, riverine, wetland, oak-prairie, and mixed forest on 11 separate units in northwestern Washington, totaling over 1,800 acres. Management goals for NOWA are to preserve habitat and species diversity for both fish and wildlife resources, maintain healthy populations of game and non-game species, protect and restore native plant communities, and provide diverse opportunities for the public to encounter, utilize, and appreciate wildlife and wild areas. Management of NOWA Units is dependent on partnerships with regional fisheries enhancement groups, tribes, and other crucial partnering organizations. Outside grant funding is the primary funding mechanism for all management activities that currently take place throughout the WDFW ownerships. Focus units include Snow/Salmon Creek, Morse Creek, Bell Creek, Lower Dungeness, and Chimacum. The primary habitat and recreational management emphasis for each of these units is listed in the table below.

 Wildlife Area Unit   Management Emphasis
Snow/Salmon Creek Estuary and Riparian Restoration
Morse Creek Channel Restoration and Public Education
Bell Creek Oregon White Oak Woodland/Savanna Restoration
Lower Dungeness Estuary/Salt Marsh Restoration, Riparian and Floodplain
Restoration, Freshwater Wetland Enhancement, and
Waterfowl Hunting
Chimacum Estuary/Riparian Restoration and Public Beach Access

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

  • Improve and maintain fish populations
  • Manage for species diversity
  • Protect and restore estuary and freshwater wetland habitats
  • Protect and restore riparian buffer habitat
  • Protect and restore Oregon white oak woodland and prairie habitats
  • Manage for waterfowl
  • Provide recreational access that is compatible with fish, wildlife, and habitat protection
  • Control noxious weeds
  • Provide habitat management consistent with T&E listed species
  • Manage for upland birds (pheasant release program)

Habitat restoration/enhancement is a fundamental priority for stewardship throughout NOWA and several significant projects were implemented over the past four years. These projects were all funded from outside grant sources including Farm Bill programs, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) and Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP), the Coastal Protection Fund, USFWS, NOAA, and many others.

Forested riparian buffer restoration took place on approximately 36 acres at Snow and Salmon Creeks. This was conducted after channel re-meandering of Salmon Creek and placement of numerous engineered log jams (ELJ’s) on the WDFW Snow/Salmon Creek Unit. Estuary restoration has been completed on approximately 11 acres of the Discovery Bay / Salmon Creek interface. Restoration of this area is a critical component of the Summer Chum Salmon Conservation Initiative.

Freshwater wetland restoration/enhancement occurred on approximately 56 acres on the Bell Creek and Lower Dungeness Units. This project will have significant benefits for migratory waterfowl and wetland associated species.

Oregon White Oak (Garry oak) woodland/savanna restoration is the primary management mechanism for the Bell Creek Unit. To date, approximately 2,200 seedlings and acorns have been planted in the Bell Creek Unit. The success of this project has hinged on a determined volunteer group since its inception. Phase II of the Garry oak woodland/savanna restoration was implemented, which involved thinning approximately 10 acres of a mixed oak and conifer stand. This project was funded through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) administered by National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have signed a use agreement in preparation for opening the Olympic Discovery Nature Interpretive Center at the Morse Creek Unit. NOSC, Jamestown S’Klallam and Elwha Tribes, and others are currently working in conjunction with WDFW to restore the historical channel alignment for Morse Creek on the WDFW unit. This project will be occurring throughout the summer of 2010.

A large partnership between Clallam County, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Clallam Conservation District, the Army Corp of Engineers, WSDOT, the North Olympic Land Trust, and others have been working on several critical projects along the Lower Dungeness River. Currently the partnership is continuing acquisition of numerous parcels to facilitate dike removal on several portions of properties including those contained in the Lower Dungeness Unit. The partnership is also working on several components of estuary restoration at the mouth of the Dungeness.

Positive stewardship of WDFW’s North Olympic Wildlife Area hinges greatly on maintaining close partnerships with numerous organizations and government entities. This includes facilitating fish and wildlife habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement, while providing sustainable recreational opportunities.

Suggested Citation:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2010. North Olympic Wildlife Area Management Plan. Wildlife Management
Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia.