Category: Wildlife Area Management
Published: May 2016
Washington' wildlife areas contain important habitat managed for the perpetuation of fish and wildlife as well as public enjoyment. Wildlife area management plans, which are developed with input from the public and other stakeholders, provide guidance related to activities on these lands, including habitat restoration, research, land management and recreation. The plans are updated every two years, and periodically go through a major revision to integrate new agency initiatives, priorities and adapt to changing conditions. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is currently writing new plans for several of the state's 33 wildlife areas, including the Klickitat Wildlife Area (KWLA).
Wildlife Area Management Planning Framework
Each new plan is guided by the Wildlife Area Management Planning Framework (Framework), which summarizes the agency' mission, laws, policies and approaches to management of fish and wildlife, as well as public use and recreation. The framework summarizes priorities and guidance developed in each of the agency's three programs: Fish, Wildlife and Habitat. Readers are encouraged to review the framework in advance, or as a companion document to this wildlife area plan.
The KWLA is located in south central Washington, about 15 miles west of Goldendale, and within close proximity to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, a major tourist destination and recreational area. The wildlife area consists of seven separate units and covers nearly 16,000 acres. Four of the wildlife area's seven units border the Klickitat River, which provides a variety of recreation activities including fishing and rafting along the river itself. The Klickitat Trail provides hiking, wildlife viewing and mountain biking and follows the river on an abandoned railroad grade from near Goldendale to the Columbia River just west of The Dalles, Oregon. One unit straddles Swale Creek, a major tributary of the Klickitat River, and one unit lies along Spring Creek adjacent to the Goldendale Trout Hatchery. One unit is situated on basalt benches along the north shore of the Columbia River. See maps beginning on page 11.
The 2016 Klickitat Wildlife Area Management Plan (Plan) describes current conditions, priorities, and strategies for management, and includes provisions to meet anticipated changing needs. As stated in the framework, the plan is intended for two audiences: 1) the public and other stakeholders; and 2) wildlife area staff. This plan covers all seven units of the Klickitat Wildlife Area, listed by name as follows: Soda Springs, Mineral Springs, Dillacort Canyon, Fisher Hill, Swale Creek, Goldendale Hatchery, and Sondino Ponds. The previous plan was completed in 2006 and can be found online.
The Klickitat Wildlife Area features eastside conifer forests, riparian shrub and woodlands, open grasslands, cliffs and talus slopes, steppe, emergent marsh, and some of Washington's best examples of Oregon white oak habitat. The area is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including game species such as black-tailed deer, elk, black bear and cougar, as well as rare species such as the golden eagle, western pond turtle and western gray squirrel. The Klickitat River retains natural spawning beds for salmon and steelhead, and is regionally renowned for excellent fishing. The original purpose for the wildlife area was to conserve important winter range for deer, critical stream habitat for steelhead, and provide access for hunting and fishing.
The Klickitat Wildlife Area Management Plan guides all management activities that occur on the wildlife area units and establishes management priorities for the next 10 years. The Plan ensures lands are managed consistent with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's mission, strategic plan and the area's original funding sources.
The plan is developed with public input, and when completed, will provide information on what can be found at the wildlife area and how fish, wildlife and their habitats are protected and conserved. It will be used by staff to implement and evaluate management activities consistent with the agency's mission.
Public Outreach and Stakeholder Involvement Process
The agency is committed to a transparent and inclusive public outreach process for all wildlife area management plans. Under the umbrella of the statewide goals listed on page 9, a customized outreach strategy is developed for each area, tailored to the stakeholders and local and out of the area visitors. For the Klickitat planning process, the public process includes three elements: 1) public and Wildlife Area Advisory Committee (WAAC) meetings; 2) development and distribution of fact sheets, meeting announcements and news releases; and, 3) solicitation of public comments through the WDFW website, phone and email. A complete summary of the public outreach activities is included in Appendix I
The vision for the Klickitat Wildlife Area is to recover sustainable populations of western gray squirrels through improved forest health; recover sustainable populations of western pond turtles, maintain and enhance habitat for game and upland bird populations; restore Oregon white oak woodlands and grasslands; restore salmon habitat, and provide a variety of public recreational opportunities.
Statewide Planning Goals
This Plan sets management priorities for Klickitat Wildlife Area for the next 10 years, consistent with the Statewide Planning Goals listed on page 9 and summarized in the Planning Framework. A complete list of Klickitat Wildlife Area goals, objectives, and