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					         Wildlife Category Proposal Review: FY 2010 and beyond

Section 10. Narrative
Project ID:          199404400

Title:               Enhance, protect, and maintain shrubsteppe habitat on the Sagebrush Flat
                     Wildlife Area (SFWA)

A. Abstract and statement of innovation

The SFWA, managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) with
BPA funding is located in Douglas County, north central Washington (see fig 1) and is
comprised of eight parcels, totaling 5,146 ha (12,718ac). It was acquired and is managed
to mitigate for the wildlife losses resulting from the construction of Chief Joseph and
Grand Coulee Dams. Focal species for this project are sharp-tailed grouse, sage grouse
and pygmy rabbit. Population status of sharp-tailed and sage grouse and the imminent
loss of their habitat in the project vicinity make the need for this project urgent.

The project goal is to protect and enhance the existing shrubsteppe and riparian habitat
and restore former agricultural fields and degraded areas to native habitat consistent with
the Upper Middle Mainstem Subbasin Plan of 2004 (UMMSP) and WDFW‟s goal to
recover and maintain shrubsteppe dependent wildlife.

Habitat protection, enhancement and restoration efforts will benefit a multitude of
wildlife species including federally and or state listed species such as sage grouse,
Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, sage thrashers, sage sparrows, loggerhead shrike,
Washington ground squirrel, and white-tailed jackrabbit (the pygmy rabbit previously
found on the Sagebrush Flat Unit is believed to be extinct in Washington). WDFW will
continue augmentation of the sharp-tailed population and plans to begin augmentation of
the sage grouse population with birds from out of state. In addition, WDFW plans to
reestablish a pygmy rabbit population in the state.

Planned monitoring activities include vegetation sampling, Habitat Evaluations
Procedures (HEP), radio telemetry, sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse lek counts,
pygmy rabbit population surveys, neotropical bird surveys, mule deer counts, and hunter
harvest bag checks. WDFW will spend a considerable effort to re-establish pygmy rabbit
populations and augment sharp-tailed and sage grouse populations.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10          1
                       Figure 1. Location of Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area Units.


B. Problem statement: technical and/or scientific background

The Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area mitigation project addresses the declining quantity and
quality of shrubsteppe habitat and the resulting reduction in the distribution and
abundance of shrubsteppe obligate species such as pygmy rabbit, sharp-tailed grouse,
sage grouse, Washington ground squirrel, sage thrasher, sage sparrow, Brewer‟s sparrow,
loggerhead shrike, and ferruginous hawk within a portion of the Upper Middle Mainstem
Subbasin (Vander Haegen et al. 2000, WDFW 2000). These species have been adversely
impacted by habitat conversion such as agriculture, urban development and water
impoundments associated with hydroelectric development. The imminent loss of


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10           2
extensive areas of CRP acres in the immediate vicinity of the SBFWA makes this
project especially urgent.

Historically more than 6 million ha (15 million ac) of Eastern Washington was
shrubsteppe/steppe habitat. It is estimated that less than 50%, of this amount currently
remains (Jacobson and Snyder 2000). Daubenmire (1970) suggested that the vast
majority of the Upper Middle Mainstem Subbasin historically consisted of shrubsteppe
habitat (Figure 2). Shrubsteppe has been eliminated or degraded across the UMMs due
to: conversion to cropland, livestock grazing, invasion by exotic plants, urban and rural
development and increased fire frequencies (Vander Haegen et al. 2001). The
distribution of present day and historical UMMS cover types is illustrated in Figure 2.




                           Sage Flat Unit




   Figure 2. Changes between historical and current habitat in Upper Middle Mainstem
                           Subbasin of the Columbia Basin.

Shrubsteppe is the dominant habitat type present on the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area
(WDFW 1998, WDFW 2001). Cover types and approximate acreages for SFWA
management units are listed on Table 1.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10     3
Table 1. Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area cover types and acreage.

  SFWA Management Unit                          Cover Type    Acres
 Sagebrush Flat                            Shrubland*           3,410
                                           Grassland              100
                                           Agriculture*           230
 Total                                                          3,740

 Dormaier                                  Shrubland*             320
 Total                                                            320

 Chester Butte                             Shrubland*           1,986
                                           Grassland*               2
                                           CRP grassland*         171
                                           Wet meadow              45
                                           Ephemeral pond           2
 Total                                                          2,206

 Bridgeport Unit*                          Shrubland*          5,039
                                           Grassland*            741
                                           CRP grassland          59
                                           Riparian               72
                                           Cliff/Talus            19
                                           Conifer Woodland        7
                                           Emergent Wetland        6
 Total                                                         5,958
*These cover types frequently include significant areas of exotic
 plants and noxious weeds.

SFWA management strategies address several key Subbasin landscape scale limiting
factors (UMMSP p. 90 and 91), such as shrubsteppe habitat conversion, degradation, and
fragmentation (Hays et al. 1998, Schroeder et al. 2000a), as well as species-specific
limiting factors (UMMSP p. 70, 90 and 147). Management activities being implemented
to address these factors include: seeding agricultural fields to native vegetation, removing
livestock grazing, protecting and maintaining existing habitat, and controlling introduced
vegetation (WDFW 1998, WDFW 2001).

An additional, and critical, limiting factor identified in the UMM is the conversion of
CRP lands back to cropland or use for grazing (UMMSP p.91). The Natural Resource
Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) resulted in dryland
grain fields planted to perennial cover beneficial to sage grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and
other shrub-steppe species (Vander Haegen et al. 2005). Schroeder et al (2006) indicate
that CRP has enormous potential to provide habitat for many grassland and
shrubsteppe species. Changes in the current Farm Bill, however, will result in the
conversion of 25% of the total CRP acreage in Douglas County, 45,000 acres, back to
cropland during the next three years (Mike Schroeder, personal communication). Adding


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                4
to this, in August of 2008, nearly 11,000 acres of CRP in the county was released for
grazing and haying. Up to 60,000 acres of CRP may be converted back to cropland in
2012 (Dave Volsen personal communication).

Although disjunct, the SFWA Units provide protected “core” habitat areas for many
shrubsteppe obligate species. Wildlife/habitat management activities at the SFWA are
focused primarily on the recovery of pygmy rabbits, sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse.
The technical and scientific basis for focusing on these species is described in the
following paragraphs.

Pygmy Rabbit

The pygmy rabbit is the smallest rabbit in North America and is endemic to sagebrush-
dominated regions of the Great Basin (Weiss and Verts. 1984). It is uniquely dependent
upon sagebrush, which comprises up to 99% of its winter diet (Green and Flinders 1980).
It is also the only rabbit native to North America that digs its own burrow. Consequently,
deep friable soils are a critical habitat component. The vast majority of that habitat type
has been converted to cropland or degraded due to grazing and noxious weeds. Pygmy
rabbit limiting factors include the loss and quality of deep-soil habitat dominated by
sagebrush.

Once ranging across 5 counties in Central Washington, by the mid-1990‟s it occurred
only in a 3 small and isolated populations in southern Douglas County. The largest
population was on what is now the Sagebrush Flat Unit of the SFWA. In 2004 intensive
surveys of this unit and surrounding areas failed to find evidence of pygmy rabbits. The
US Fish and Wildlife Service now considers the rabbit extinct in Washington (Chris
Warren, personal communication). Currently the state of Washington and the USFWS
list the pygmy rabbit as endangered.

A captive breeding program that began in 2000 has been unable to overcome genetic
challenges that resulted in poor reproduction and survivorship within the captive
population. Consequently, the Pygmy Rabbit Recovery Team and the USFWS has
chosen to end the breeding program and focus on translocating animals from Idaho. This
will begin in 2010 (Chris Warren, personal communication).

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Sharp-tailed grouse, listed as threatened by the state of Washington, were historically
found in shrubsteppe and deciduous shrub habitats throughout Eastern Washington.
Already depressed due to extensive habitat elimination and degradation, the sharp-tailed
grouse population declined by 94% between 1960 and 2000 (Figures 3 and 4), (Schroeder
et al. 2000). The sharp-tailed grouse population status on and in the vicinity of the
Bridgeport Unit of the SFWA is especially tenuous due to the imminent loss of key
habitat (CRP). This makes the need for this project especially urgent. The 2008
Washington population is estimated to be around 782 (Schroeder, personal
communication). The WDFW translocated fifty-two (52) sharp-tailed grouse from


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10     5
regions outside the state on the Bridgeport Unit in the springs of 2005 through 2008
(Schroeder, personal communication).




     Figure3: Historical and current sharp-tailed grouse distribution in Washington

Sharp-tailed grouse limiting factors include the lack of and/or availability of shrubsteppe
habitat dominated by herbaceous cover (grasses and forbs), the distribution of riparian
habitats dominated by deciduous shrubs (winter habitat), and habitat fragmentation.
Reduction of riparian forest habitats along the Columbia River as a result of construction
of Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams eliminated sharp-tailed grouse wintering habitat
(Howerton 1986).




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10     6
                      5000

                      4500

                      4000
POPULATION ESTIMATE




                      3500

                      3000

                      2500

                      2000

                      1500

                      1000

                      500

                         0
                             1965         1970          1975     1980   1985       1990    1995      2000        2005
                                                                            YEAR


                                    Figure 4: Long-term population trends of sharp-tailed grouse in Washington

                      Sage Grouse

                      As is the case for sharp-tailed grouse, sage grouse were historically found in shrubsteppe
                      habitats throughout eastern Washington (Figure 5). Sage grouse populations in
                      Washington declined 77% between 1960 and 1999 (Figure 6), (Schroeder et al. 2000a).
                      One of the two remaining populations is centered in Douglas County, within the UMMS.
                      The SFWA is located in WDFW‟s Sage Grouse Management Zone 2 (Figure 7). The
                      2008 population in the UMMS including the Sagebrush Flat, Chester Butte and Dormaier
                      Units is estimated to be about 491. The sage grouse is listed as a threatened species by
                      the state of Washington (Schroeder et al. 2000a).




                      FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10          7
          Figure 5. Historic and current distribution of greater sage grouse in Washington.

The primary sage grouse limiting factor is the lack of available shrubsteppe habitat with a
substantial component of herbaceous cover (grasses and forbs). Low density of big
sagebrush in shrubsteppe habitat may also limit sage grouse in the UMMS, but to a lesser
extent.

Within the Subbasin, shrubsteppe and grassland habitats have been reduced by 39% and
88% respectively (UMMSP, 2004, page 84). The Subbasin plan identifies several factors
affecting the quantity and quality of shrubsteppe and grassland habitats in the Subbasin:
1) permanent conversion, 2) degradation from over-grazing and noxious weeds, 3)
agricultural practices such as brush control, 4) conversion of lands enrolled in the
Conservation Reserve Program back to cropland or rangeland, 5) reduction or destruction
of cryptogrammic crusts and 6) agricultural and grazing practices that may cause direct or
indirect wildlife mortality (UMMSP, 2004, pages 90-91).




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10       8
                                                     SAGE GROUSE POPULATION ESTIMATES
                                                        WASHINGTON STATE (1961-2008)

                      3000



                      2500
POPULATION ESTIMATE




                      2000



                      1500



                      1000



                      500



                        0
                             1960    1965       1970       1975   1980        1985   1990   1995   2000   2005
                                                                             YEAR



                             Fig. 6. Long-term population trends of greater sage grouse in Washington

                The SBWA habitat enhancement, restoration, maintenance, and protection activities that
                benefit pygmy rabbits, sharp-tailed grouse and sage grouse also benefit other shrubsteppe
                obligate species, neo-tropical birds, waterfowl, big game, and upland game birds.
                Although there are no fish bearing streams, rivers, or lakes on the SFWA, fishery
                resources indirectly benefit from this project‟s upland and riparian habitat enhancement
                that improve water and general watershed quality.

                C. Rationale and significance to regional programs

                The Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area was acquired to partially mitigate for wildlife losses
                resulting from construction of Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams. Sharp-tailed
                grouse, sage grouse, and mule deer are listed in the loss assessments for both dams
                (Howerton 1986, Berger, M., and D. Kuehn 1992) and were used as habitat indicator
                species during the Habitat Evaluation Procedure (HEP) analysis (Berger, Cope 1992).
                WDFW also used the pygmy rabbit as a guild indicator species to evaluate shrubsteppe
                habitat. Shrubsteppe habitat is considered a high priority habitat by both the WDFW and
                the NWPPC.
                As an ongoing mitigation project, the SFWA project is consistent with the Northwest
                Power Planning Council‟s 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program including, but not limited to
                the following sections: Overall Vision (Section III A-1), Planning Assumptions (Section



                FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                 9
III, A-2), Scientific Principles (Section III, B-2) i.e., Principles one through eight,
Biological Objectives (Section III, C- (Section III, C-2a.4) and Wildlife (Section III, D-7)

The SFWA plays a critical role in WDFW‟s goal to protect, enhance and restore
shrubsteppe, grassland and riparian habitats capable of supporting wildlife species that
depend on these habitats. It is also a critical component in WDFW‟s goal to recover and
reestablish pygmy rabbit populations (UMMSP, p. 195, Biological Objective 3) and to
increase the size and distribution of sage and sharp-tailed grouse populations (UMMSP,
p. 195, Biological Objective 2) in North Central Washington.

The SFWA mitigation project compliments WDFW‟s Greater Sage Grouse Recovery
Plan. The plan‟s goal is to increase the population to a minimum of 3,200 birds in six
management zones (figure 7). The SFWA lies in management zone 2 (goal of at least 600
grouse).




                            Figure 7. WDFW sage grouse management zones.

Similarly, the SFWA mitigation project compliments WDFW‟s effort to increase and
maintain viable sharp-tailed grouse populations (goal of at least 2,000 grouse) in four
management zones (figure 8) within Washington State (WDFW 1995). Today, sharp-
tailed grouse are found in eight relatively small, isolated, subpopulations (subpopulations
are separated from others by at least 20 km /12.5 mi). Sharp-tailed grouse populations
continue to decline in Washington due to long-term effects of habitat conversion,
degradation, fragmentation, and population isolation (Hays et al. 1998, Schroeder et al.
2000).

Management efforts of this and other projects (see section D) will result in greater habitat
connectivity and greater opportunity for genetic exchange between sub-populations.

The WDFW, in coordination with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, plans to release
pygmy rabbits back on the Sagebrush Flat Unit to reestablish this shrubsteppe obligate
into its native habitat. The Sagebrush Flat Unit is a key pygmy rabbit release area. Here,
much of the deep soil areas needed for pygmy rabbit burrow construction are located in


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10         10
mounds surrounded by shallow soil and thus were protected from agricultural conversion.
WDFW biologists will monitor the progress of the recovery program and evaluate
additional release sites including the Dormaier and Chester Butte Units.




Figure 8. WDFW Sharp-tailed Grouse Management Zones in Washington State.

The goals and objectives described in the SFWA mitigation project management plan
(WDFW 1998) support both WDFW and Upper Middle Mainstem Subbasin goals and
objectives (Table 2)1.

Table 2. WDFW, Upper Middle Mainstem Subbasin, and SFWA goals and objectives for
         sharp-tailed grouse, pygmy rabbit, and sage grouse.

WDFW State Goals             Upper Middle Mainstem         SFWA Project Goals
                             Subbasin Goals
                             Provide sufficient quantity
                                                           Increase and maintain the
Increase the population size and quality shrubsteppe
                                                           population of the focal
and distribution of sharp-   habitat to support the
                                                           species to viable levels on
tailed grouse, sage grouse   diversity of wildlife as
                                                           the wildlife area and
and pygmy rabbits.           represented by sustainable
                                                           surrounding lands.
                             focal species.
                             Provide sufficient quantity
                                                           Protect and enhance
                             and quality shrubsteppe
Protect, enhance, and                                      existing habitat conditions
                             habitat to support the
increase shrub/meadow                                      for the benefit of the focal
                             diversity of wildlife as
steppe in Washington State.                                species and other endemic
                             represented by sustainable
                                                           wildlife species.
                             focal species.
WDFW State Objectives for Upper Middle Mainstem            SFWA Project Objectives




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10   11
sharp-tailed grouse                        Subbasin Objectives
                                                         Continue translocation
Increase the population of                 Implement existing state
                                                         efforts begun in 2005.
sharp-tailed grouse in                     management and recovery
                                                         Maintain, protect and
Management Zone 3 to                       plans to conserve the focal
                                                         enhance existing
more than 600.                             species.
                                                         shrubsteppe habitat.
Enhance shrub/meadow                                     Implement riparian
                             Maintain and/or enhance
steppe in riparian corridors                             management efforts as
                             habitat function. Implement
less than 0.3 miles for                                  described in the SFWA
                             existing plans.
winter habitat.                                          Management Plan.
                                                         Implement riparian
Restore riparian or          Maintain and/or enhance
                                                         management efforts as
deciduous-shrub habitat in   habitat function. Implement
                                                         described in the SFWA
upland areas.                existing plans.
                                                         Management Plan.
                             Maintain and/or enhance
                                                         Implement management
Protect more than 25,000     habitat function. Implement
                                                         efforts aimed at weed
acres high quality,          existing plans. Achieve
                                                         control, reseeding marginal
occupied, relatively         permanent protection
                                                         habitat and maintaining
contiguous habitat in        through acquisition,
                                                         firebreaks and fences.
Management Zone 3.           conservation easement,
                                                         Acquire habitat.
                             cooperative agreements etc.
WDFW State Objectives for Upper Middle Mainstem          SFWA Project Objectives
sage grouse                  Subbasin Objectives
                             Implement existing state    Participate in translocation
Increase the population of
                             management and recovery     efforts. Maintain, protect
sage grouse in Management
                             plans to conserve the focal and enhance existing
Zone 2 to more than 600.
                             species.                    shrubsteppe habitat.
                             Maintain and/or enhance
                                                         Implement management
Protect more than 40,000     habitat function. Implement
                                                         efforts aimed at weed
acres of high quality,       existing plans. Achieve
                                                         control, reseeding marginal
occupied, relatively         permanent protection
                                                         habitat and maintaining
contiguous habitat in        through acquisition,
                                                         firebreaks and fences.
Management Zones 2 & 4       conservation easement,
                                                         Acquire habitat.
                             cooperative agreements etc.
WDFW State Objectives for Upper Middle Mainstem          SFWA Project Objectives
pygmy rabbit                 Subbasin Objectives
                                                         Implement management
                                                         efforts aimed at weed
                             Implement existing state    control, reseeding marginal
Reestablish pygmy rabbits    management and recovery     habitat and maintaining
onto the SFWA                plans to conserve the focal firebreaks and fences.
                             species.                    Acquire habitat. Participate
                                                         in recovery efforts as
                                                         needed.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                12
D. Relationships to other projects

The focus of the SFWA Mitigation Project includes the protection, restoration and
enhancement of shrubsteppe habitat to benefit shrubsteppe obligate species and other
wildlife. Since the project‟s inception in the early 1990‟s shrubsteppe conservation
efforts have been untaken by numerous governmental and private organizations across
Eastern Washington. These compliment the SFWA‟s efforts and amplify their benefits.

WDFW biologists have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service
(NRCS) to include sagebrush seeding and planting into the popular Conservation Reserve
Program (CRP). This, the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) and other federal
aid programs assist landowners with wildlife habitat enhancement and protection efforts.
The CRP is very prominent in Douglas County and particularly in the vicinity of the
SFWA and has proven to be very beneficial to shrub-steppe species (Vander Haegen et
al. 2005).

Shrubsteppe conservation has become a focus of land acquisition by The Nature
Conservancy (TNC) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The TNC now owns
over 30,000 acres in the vicinity of SFWA while the BLM owns and manages more
10,000 acres adjacent to and in the vicinity of the Chester Butte Unit. Each manages for
the conservation of shrubsteppe habitat. WDFW scientists are studying the response of
native wildlife to shrubsteppe restoration efforts and CRP within the Columbian Basin
including sites on SFWA, Swanson Lake Wildlife Area, BLM, Nature Conservancy and
private lands. Within Douglas County, the Foster Creek Conservation District is nearing
completion of a Habitat Conservation Plan for private agricultural lands. This plan will
provide private landowners with habitat and species management recommendations. It
will promote habitat and species conservation efforts in the vicinity of the SFWA and
compliment its management efforts.

 WDFW is either directly responsible for or has contributed to several pygmy rabbits and
sharp-tailed grouse genetics studies initiated in the past few years. Dr. Kenneth Warheit
(WDFW) in collaboration with Dr. James Hallet (Washington State University) has
conducted genetic analyses on both nuclear and mitochondrial markers from pygmy
rabbits from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. John Tull (Ph.D. candidate,
University of Nevada, Reno) has initiated a study on mitochondrial evolution in pygmy
rabbits from throughout their range, and Dr. Lisette Waits (University of Idaho) is
establishing protocols for conducting genetics analyses based on pygmy rabbit hair and
fecal pellets. The genetic relationships of the existing Columbian sharp-tailed grouse
populations have been assessed by WDFW. This study also examined the degree to
which the small and isolated populations in Washington have experienced a loss of
genetic diversity.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10    13
This project is a critical component of WDFW‟s statewide effort to establish and
maintain viable populations of sharp-tailed grouse. This project compliments and
supports sharp-tailed grouse and shrubsteppe habitat recovery efforts at the Swanson
Lakes Wildlife Area (BPA Project 199106100), Scotch Creek Wildlife Area
(199609400), the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) (199204800, 21034) and Spokane
Tribe of Indians (STOI) Reservations

Additional shrubsteppe and/or prairie grouse recovery/maintenance projects include the
Wells Wildlife Mitigation Project (WDFW/Douglas County PUD), the Chief Joseph Dam
Mitigation Project (Army Corps of Engineers), the Moses Coulee/Beezley Hills Shrub
Steppe Preserve (TNC), the Foster Creek Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in Douglas
County and the Okanogan-Similkameen Conservation Corridor Program. The
Okanogan-Similkameen Conservation Corridor Program is an international effort to
protect and enhance shrubsteppe and associated wildlife from the Okanogan Valley of
British Columbia to the confluence of the Columbia and Okanogan Rivers. This program
will strengthen the habitat link between populations of sharp-tailed grouse in Douglas and
Okanogan counties. The WDFW‟s Shrubsteppe Restoration Research Project contributes
valuable information for use in managing for prairie grouse, and in habitat restoration.
Sharp-tailed and sage grouse translocation projects also support the goals of SFWA.

WDFW, in conjunction with the CCT and STOI is developing strategies to establish and
maintain meta sharp-tailed grouse populations within the Upper Middle Mainstem,
Okanogan (Cascade Columbia Province), and Lake Roosevelt (Mountain Columbia
Province) subbasins i.e., viable populations at the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area, SFWA,
the Wells Wildlife Area, the SCWA and the CCT and STOI Reservations (Figure 9).
Sharp-tailed grouse are currently present on all areas except the STOI Reservation. The
overall vision for this cooperative effort is to share information, conduct joint habitat
evaluations and research on sharp-tailed grouse, exchange grouse between isolated
populations to increase genetic variability, establish new populations to link existing
subpopulations and cooperate in habitat enhancement efforts.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10    14
                         Figure 9. Sharp-tailed grouse cooperative project sites.

WDFW and the CCT have cooperated on sharp-tailed grouse radio telemetry studies both
on and off reservation lands (McDonald 1998). Furthermore, sharp-tailed grouse captured
on the CCT reservation have supplemented remnant grouse populations at the Scotch
Creek Wildlife Area. In 2005, WDFW and CCT initiated a translocation of sharp-tailed
grouse from source populations in Idaho and British Columbia to the Bridgeport Unit of
SFWA, Swanson Lake Wildlife Area and CCT lands. WDFW and CCT Biologists and
wildlife area staff captured, transported and released 60 sharp-tailed grouse within 5 days
on three sites (20 on each); one located on the Colville Reservation and the others on the
SFWA and the SLWA. All birds were radio-marked and tracked weekly.

Similar efforts to increase and enhance the population of sage grouse have been
underway on the US Army‟s Yakima Training Center (YTC) (Livingston 2004), Yakima
Indian Reservation and in Douglas County. In 2004 and 2005 sage grouse captured in
Nevada and Oregon were released on the YTC. Monitoring of radio marked birds has
shown some seasonal use of nearby WDFW lands on the Wenas and LT Murray Wildlife
Areas. WDFW plans to translocate sage grouse in Douglas County with releases on
SFWA units beginning in 2012.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10            15
E. Project history

BPA first approved the SFWA as a mitigation project (91-061) in 1992 under the title,
“Tracy Rock Sharp-tailed Grouse and Douglas County Pygmy Rabbit Site Specific
Management Plan” (Berger, Cope 1992). At that juncture, the project was little more than
a concept for managing lands occupied by pygmy rabbits in Douglas County and
included property owned by WDFW, The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and
private parties.

Since 1995 SFWA has grown to 12,718 acres thanks to funds from both BPA and
Washington. This wildlife area has two primary goals: 1) increase and maintain viable
populations of sharp-tailed grouse, sage grouse and pygmy rabbits on the wildlife area
and surrounding lands, 2) protect, enhance and increase existing habitat conditions for the
benefit of the above species and other endemic wildlife. To accomplish these goals the
area addresses several critical landscape level limiting factors such as shrubsteppe habitat
conversion, degradation, and fragmentation (Hays et al. 1998, Schroeder et al. 2000) as
well as species-specific limiting factors. Management activities that are being
implemented to address these factors include: seeding agricultural fields to native-like
vegetation, cessation of grazing, protecting and maintaining existing habitat, weed
control and controlling introduced vegetation (WDFW 1998, WDFW 2001).

The following major enhancement, protection and maintenance activities have been
accomplished during the 1999-2009 period.

     1. Replaced over 400 acres non-native grasses in former agricultural land to native-
        like herbaceous species for wildlife nesting and hiding cover and forage. The
        majority of these acres had been planted with only a single species of grass
        between the 1950‟s and mid-1980‟s. Consequently they were of little value for
        native wildlife. There are more than 1,400 acres in similar condition on the area.
        We will continue conversion of marginal habitat value acres at a rate of 100 - 150
        acres per year.
     2. Planted more than 15,000 riparian trees and shrubs along 1.5 miles of West Foster
        Creek on the Bridgeport Unit. An additional 300 trees and shrubs have been
        planted within fenced enclosures to protect them from deer browsing. An
        irrigated plot of 250 trees and shrubs was established and protected with deer
        fence. In 2005 and 2006 staff constructed approximately feet of deer fence to
        protect severely stunted native trees and shrubs from deer browsing. These
        efforts create and protect additional winter habitat for sharp-tailed grouse
        (UMMSP biological objective 2), stabilize the stream bank, provide additional
        habitat for neo-tropical migrants and other wildlife and reduce erosion.
     3. Constructed a small series of rock weirs in West Foster Creek to reduce erosion
        and incision of streambanks and channel. We resloped and planted to native
        grasses and shrubs 250 feet of adjacent streambank.



FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10     16
     4. Controlled weeds on the 12,718-acre wildlife area. Control efforts have been a
         combination of chemical, biological and mechanical methods. Considerable time
         has been invested in patrolling for new invaders, spot treatments to prevent to
         eliminate/reduce infestations, burning and reseeding. We annually treat up 32
         miles of miles of roads with by mowing and or spot spraying. Since 2002 we have
         been using the bioagent Mecinus janthinus to control Dalmatian toadflax. To date
         we have released more than 14,000 of these insects and are beginning to observe a
         positive response.
     5. Constructed and annually maintain 15 miles of firebreaks on the Sagebrush Flat
         Unit to help protect the area from fire. A fire on this unit would eliminate the vast
         the majority of remaining intact pygmy rabbit habitat in the state and virtually end
         any chance of species recovery. Consequently fire prevention and protection on
         this unit are our highest priorities.
     6. Built more than 8 miles of new fence to protect and maintain critical habitat for
         our focal species from trespass cattle grazing. Trespass grazing damages the
         habitat through removal of vegetation and promoting weed infestations.
     7. Annually maintain, repair and improve more than 50 miles of boundary miles of
         boundary fence, 7 parking areas, at least 5 miles of interior roads as well as
         equipment, vehicles and other facilities. Trespass and dumping issues have
         increased in recent years on the Bridgeport Unit. To address these problems we
         constructed four steel gates at access points on this unit.
     8. Removed more 15 miles of old interior fences. We annually remove hundreds of
         pounds of debris and trash that dumped on the area – primarily the Bridgeport
         Unit.
     9. Addressed Environmental Compliance Documentation issues as needed.
     10. Since 2005, 58 sharp-tailed grouse have translocated to the Bridgeport Unit from
         source populations in Idaho and Utah. All birds have been marking with radio-
         collars and tracked periodically by WDFW biologists.

The SFWA currently has 4 agricultural, CRP, leases on more 900 acres of former
cropland that generate approximately $20,000 for the project. These funds are
incorporated into the annual budget and used to supplement O&M and equipment needs.
Beginning in 2010 however, the CRP contracts associated with these leases will begin to
expire and will not be renewed resulting in a loss of this income.

Funding levels for 2005-2009 period were:

          2005: $220,000
          2006: $249,360
          2007: $249,360
          2008: $215,000
          2009: $249,360




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10      17
Monitoring History (See Appendix A and B):

Monitoring History - Habitat Evaluation Procedures:

Baseline HEP work has been conducted on all 4 units of the SFWA, including the
Sagebrush Flat, Dormaier, Chester Butte, and Bridgeport units. Follow-up HEP surveys
were completed in 2007 for the Dormaier and Chester Butte units as well as the initial
parcel of the Bridgeport unit (Ashley 2007a). Analysis of the 2007 results showed an
overall increase in the HSI and HU numbers over baseline. HU values for the Dormaier
increased by 8% while on the Chester Butte Unit values doubled. On the Bridgeport
Unit, the sharp-tailed grouse HU‟s increased by 470.62 with a corresponding HSI
increase for sharp-tailed grouse from 0.46 (fair) to 0.70 (good). Ashley attributes the
overall increase to the active and passive management efforts of SFWA. A summary and
comparison of the results is displayed in Tables 3, 4 and 5

Table 3. Bridgeport Unit follow-up and baseline HEP results.

                                                                                     2007 Follow-up HEP        1999 Baseline HEP
             Cover Type                   Acres              HEP Model
                                                                                     HSI        HUs           HSI         HUs1
                                                        Western Meadowlark            0.37         722.29      0.40         789.60
        Shrubsteppe/Grassland            1,958.00             Mule Deer               0.45         879.40      0.27         532.98
                                                         Sharp-tailed Grouse          0.70       1,378.66      0.46         908.04
                             Subtotal    1,958.00                                                2,980.35                  2,230.62
            Riparian Shrub                  16.00        Sharp-tailed Grouse          0.10             1.60    0.00             0.00
                       Parcel Total      1,974.00                                                2,981.95                  2,230.62
1
    Baseline habitat unit calculations were based on 1,974 acres of shrubsteppe habitat.


Table 4. Chester Butte Unit follow-up and baseline HEP results.
                                                                                     2007 Follow-up HEP       1999 Baseline HEP
             Cover Type                  Acres              HEP Model
                                                                                     HSI       HUs            HSI        HUs1
              Grassland                      178        Western Meadowlark           0.61         109.41      0.02          351.76
              Grassland                   178                Mule Deer               0.05      9.40                   Not collected
              Grassland                   178               Sage Grouse              0.19      33.42                  Not collected
             Shrubsteppe                 2,028          Western Meadowlark           0.21     435.28                  Not collected
             Shrubsteppe                 2,028               Mule Deer               0.54     1,100.80        0.34       678.14
             Shrubsteppe                 2,028              Sage Grouse              0.62     1,260.75        0.22       407.87
                      Parcel Total l       2,206                                                2,946.06                   1,437.77
1
    Baseline habitat unit calculations were based on 1,990 acres of shrubsteppe habitat.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                             18
Table 5. Dormaier Unit follow-up and baseline HEP results.
                                                                              2007 Follow-up HEP             1999 Baseline HEP
          Cover Type                 Acres             HEP Model
                                                                              HSI          HUs              HSI        HUs
          Grassland1                  60              Pygmy Rabbit             0.14        8.10             N/A         N/A
          Grassland   1               60               Mule Deer              0.09         5.11             N/A         N/A
           Grassland1                 60               Sage Grouse            0.21        12.70             N/A         N/A
          Shrubsteppe                 260             Pygmy Rabbit            0.65        169.99            0.4         128
          Shrubsteppe                 260              Mule Deer              0.48        124.80            0.5         160
          Shrubsteppe                 260              Sage Grouse            0.62        162.21            0.5         160
                    Parcel Total l      320                                              482.92                        448.00
1
  This cover type did not exist when baseline HEP surveys were completed. 2007 HSI and HU values for this cover type
represents five year projected values.


Wildlife surveys conducted on the SBFWA and vicinity include, but are not limited to,
aerial surveys of mule deer populations, surveys of greater sage-grouse and sharp-tailed
grouse display sites (leks), pellet surveys of deer, grouse, and jackrabbits, breeding
surveys of songbirds, searches for songbird nests, trapping surveys of small mammals,
and standardized searches for reptiles and amphibians (Schroeder and Almack 2006).
Some of these data sets have been collected annually since at least 1994 and some have
been stratified by management history and focal habitat.

Several focal species were observed during these surveys, including species in both
shrubsteppe and riparian wetland habitats (Schroeder and Almack 2006). Many of these
observations varied significantly by habitat, by treatment (on the wildlife area versus off
the wildlife area), and by year. For example, the sharp-tailed grouse, yellow warbler,
Brewer‟s sparrow, western meadowlark, and grasshopper sparrow all illustrated
significant declines while the vesper sparrow and song sparrow increased (Schroeder and
Almack 2006).

Wildlife species status information is located on WDFW‟s PHS web site Game species
status data is available in WDFW‟s Game Status Reports. Shrubsteppe bird counts and
sharp-tailed grouse lek survey results are described below.

Monitoring History - Shrubsteppe bird surveys on the Sagebrush Flats Unit

Shrubsteppe birds were surveyed on the Sagebrush Flats Wildlife Area in 1996, 1997,
and 1998 as part of a larger study examining the effects of habitat fragmentation on
populations of shrubsteppe-obligate passerines. Surveys were repeated once each month
in April, May, and June. Birds were counted on 5 fixed-diameter point counts (100m
diameter) established 200m apart in a big sagebrush/bunchgrass community. All birds
seen or heard during each 10-minute point-count were tallied by sex and distance from
the survey point. The total number of birds counted each year across all points is
presented by species in Table 5.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                       19
Table 5. Total number of birds counted on point-count surveys at
Sagebrush Flats site, 1996-1998.

Species                                    1996   1997   1998
American Kestrel                              1      0      0
Brown-headed Cowbird                          1      5      6
Brewer's Sparrow                             80     66     90
Chipping Sparrow                              1      0      0
Common Raven                                  7      0     14
Horned Lark                                  33     39     51
Killdeer                                      0      0      1
Mourning Dove                                 1      0      0
Red-winged blackbird                          0      2      0
Ring-necked Pheasant                          1      0      3
Sage Sparrow                                 21     12     32
Sage Thrasher                                25     10     31
Vesper Sparrow                               15     22     53
White-crowned Sparrow                        29      5      0
Western Meadowlark                           21      3     26

Monitoring History - Sharp-tailed Grouse

Sharp-tailed grouse leks were monitored on and near the Bridgeport Unit prior to
WDFW‟s recent ownership. As in many parts of its range, the abundance and distribution
of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse have clearly declined within the state of Washington
(Yocom 1952; Buss and Dziedzic 1955; Hays et al. 1998; Schroeder et al. 2000). In
1998, these declines lead to the state listing of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse as a
threatened species in Washington (Hays et al. 1998). The long-term decline in the status
of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse has been attributed to the dramatic alteration of native
habitat due to cultivation and degradation (Buss and Dziedzic 1955; McDonald and
Reese 1998). The native habitats the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse include grass-
dominated nesting habitat and deciduous shrub-dominated wintering habitat, both of
which are critical for sharp-tailed grouse (Giesen and Connelly 1993; Connelly et al.
1998). Proposed project enhancement activities on the Bridgeport Unit will address both
nesting and winter habitat limiting factors, as described in the Upper Middle Mainstem
Subbasin summary..

Members of bird-watching organizations and WDFW personnel (Department of Game at
that time) opportunistically visited most of the leks including those on and near what is
now the SFWA between 1954 and 1969. Surveys of leks prior to 1970 typically
consisted of a single count of the birds attending a lek during the breeding season and
they did not represent a standardized effort. The WDFW and the Colville Confederated
Tribes expanded the surveys between 1970 and 1989, including additional searches for
new and/or previously undiscovered leks and two visits to specific leks. Between 1990
and 2000 personnel of the WDFW, The Colville Confederated Tribes, and The Nature



FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10            20
Conservancy attempted to visit all sharp-tailed grouse leks in Washington on
annually.

Attendance numbers for lek complexes were analyzed by using the highest number of
birds observed on a single day for each lek complex for each year. Average attendance at
all lek complexes was used as a method to evaluate annual population change and to
provide a technique for comparing populations of sharp-tailed grouse in Washington with
populations in other regions (Connelly et al. 1998). Rates of population change were
analyzed by comparing the total number of birds counted at all lek complexes counted in
consecutive years; or in 2 cases in the 1960s, 2 year intervals. Because sampling was
occasionally biased by size and accessibility of lek complexes, lek complexes not
counted in consecutive years or on both ends of a specific 2-year interval were excluded
from the sample for that specific interval. Annual rates of population change were then
used to estimate annual spring populations backward between 2000 and 1960 birds. The
initial population was estimated of 2000 birds by multiplying lek attendance numbers for
each lek complex by 2; this technique assumes that lek counts include mostly males and
that the male: female sex ratio is approximately 1:1 (Hays et al. 1998).

The average maximum count of birds on lek complexes was 9.9 for 744 annual counts
between 1960 and 2000. Counts on lek complexes averaged 9.3 for 21 leks in 2000.
Average attendance at lek complexes between 1960 and 1999 tended to decline at an
annual rate of 1.4%. The 2000 population estimate was 585: 350 at Nespelem; 188 at
Swanson Lakes; 60 at Dyer Hill (includes the Bridgeport Unit); and 106 in the Okanogan
River areas (Tunk Valley, Greenaway Spring, Chesaw, Horse Springs Coulee, and Scotch
Creek).

The total number of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in Washington was estimated to be
585 in 2000, consisting of eight relatively distinct populations. The distribution of sharp-
tailed grouse declined about 97% from historic levels and the overall abundance declined
about 94% since 1960; declines in the remaining populations also have been dramatic (73
- 96% since 1970).

Mike Schroeder (2008, personal communication) estimated sharp-tailed grouse
population numbers on and in the vicinity of the Bridgeport Unit based on lek surveys
conducted in the area (Figure 10). This would suggest an increase in the population after
the initial releases in 2005. Population estimates in the area increased 57% from a low of
24 in 2001 to 56 in 2008.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10     21
                      120
                      110
POPULATION ESTIMATE




                                                                              Pre Augmentation
                      100
                                                                              Post Augmentation
                       90
                       80
                       70
                       60
                       50
                       40
                       30
                       20
                       10
                        0
                        1990   1992          1994       1996   1998    2000   2002      2004      2006   2008
                                                                  YEAR


             Figure 10: Sharp-tailed grouse population estimates based on lek surveys – Bridgeport
             Unit and vicinity. Pre and post augmentation period numbers are separated as indicated
             in the legend.

             Monitoring History - Sage Grouse:

             Sage grouse were historically found in shrubsteppe habitats throughout Eastern
             Washington. Schroeder et al. (2000a) estimated the 2000 Washington population to be
             around1000, with about 600 of the birds residing in a contiguous subpopulation in
             Douglas and Grant counties, almost entirely within the Upper Middle Mainstem Subbasin
             (Schroeder et al. 2000a). An additional subpopulation of 300 birds is found in Yakima
             and Kittitas counties, approximately 50 km (30 mi) from the Upper Middle Mainstem
             population. The Columbia Basin Irrigation Project in western Grant County separates the
             2 populations. These are continuing to decline in Washington due to long-term effects of
             habitat conversion, degradation, fragmentation, and population isolation (Hays et al.
             1998, Schroeder et al. 2000a). Sage grouse in Washington declined 77% between 1960
             and 1999 (Schroeder et al. 2000a). Sage grouse population estimates (1961-2008) in the
             UMMS based on lek surveys are illustrated in Figure 11. Sage grouse population
             estimates are calculated as described for sharp-tailed grouse.




             FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10             22
                          1600

                          1400
    POPULATION ESTIMATE




                          1200

                          1000

                          800

                          600

                          400

                          200

                            0
                                 1960   1965   1970   1975   1980     1985   1990   1995   2000   2005
                                                                    YEAR

Figure 11. Sage grouse population estimates in the UMMS area based on lek surveys
(1961-2008).

Information Transfer and Sharing: Data reside at project site, at WDFW headquarters,
and/or at BPA, both in printed and electronic form. Information derived from this project
will be used to improve wildlife/habitat management techniques on the SBFWA and
other wildlife areas and can be provided to SFWA project managers and other interested
parties either electronically or in hard copy reports. All data, reports, techniques, and
methods resulting from monitoring and research will be made available in accordance
with WDFW policies regulating the release of sensitive fish and wildlife information.

F. Proposal biological/physical objectives, work elements, methods, and metrics

This project has two primary goals: 1) increase and maintain viable populations of sharp-
tailed grouse, sage grouse and pygmy rabbits on the wildlife area and surrounding lands,
2) protect, enhance and increase existing habitat conditions for the benefit of the above
species and other endemic wildlife. These goals are consistent with WDFW management
plans and recovery plans for the above species. Additional planning, assessment and
management reports that support these goals by emphasizing the need for population
recovery and shrubsteppe protection for the project‟s goals include the WDFW 2009-
2015 Strategic Plan, Washington‟s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy,
Washington Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (2007) and the North American Landbird
Conservation Plan (Rich, T.D. et al. 2004). Objectives and strategies described in the
SFWA Management Plan (2006) are directed at fulfilling these goals. This plan is
updated annually to summarize accomplishments, reflect changing conditions and
adaptive management strategies. Finally, the goals are consistent the Upper Middle
Mainstream Subbasin Plan‟s vision that “Natural habitats exist with sufficient quantity,
quality and linkages to perpetuate existing native fish and wildlife populations in the


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                        23
foreseeable future. Where sufficient habitat exists, through a combination of protections
and restoration, extirpated fish and wildlife species are restored within the subbasin.”
(UMM, page 192). Management objectives for the SFWA are presented below.

Objective 1: Maintain, protect and enhance shrubsteppe habitat on the SFWA via
implementation of the SFWA Management Plan. This advances the UMM‟s stated goal
for shrubsteppe to “provide sufficient quantity and quality shrubsteppe habitat to support
the diversity of wildlife as represented by sustainable focal species.” This objective is
supported the UMM‟s Habitat Objectives 2,3 (UMM page 194)


                  Work Element 1: Maintain restored agricultural fields (400 acres) planted
                                 since 2000 through mowing, re-seeding, herbicide
                                 application and harrow treatments as needed to maintain
                                 plant vigor and species diversity. Timeframe: 2010 and
                                 beyond.

                  Work Element 2: Use integrated pest management treatments to control
                                 frequency and potential spread of noxious weeds on
                                 12,718-acre wildlife area. Treatments will include
                                 herbicides, bioagents, mechanical control, and cultural
                                 efforts. Timeframe: 2010 and beyond.

                  Work Element 3: Maintain upland shrub plantings on the Bridgeport Unit
                                 through weed control, fence repair and replacing
                                 trees/shrubs lost to mortality. Timeframe: 2010 and
                                 beyond.
                  Work Element 4: Maintain habitat at the Sagebrush Flat Unit. Maintain 15
                                 miles of firebreaks around and within the unit to
                                 help/prevent a catastrophic fire from destroying pygmy
                                 rabbit habitat. Use tractor and cultivator 3-4 times/year
                                 to keep firebreaks clear of vegetation. Timeframe: 2010
                                 and beyond.
                  Work Element 5: Maintain 50 miles of boundary fence as well as
                                 numerous gates on all wildlife area units. Boundary
                                 fence prevents trespass cattle grazing, motorized vehicle
                                 trespass, dumping/litter issues and delineates unit
                                 boundaries. Timeframe: 2010 and beyond.
                  Work Element 6: Maintain buildings, headquarters area and other area
                                 developments to ensure a sound infrastructure system for
                                 efficient operation of wildlife area. Timeframe: 2010 and
                                 beyond.
                  Work Element 7: Maintain parking areas, informational signs, roads and
                                 culverts as needed for public access. Timeframe: 2010
                                 and beyond.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10        24
                  Work Element 8: Survey and mark up to 12 miles of boundary line on the
                                 Bridgeport Unit. This is a necessary first step to
                                 delineating the unit‟s boundary. Boundary will then be
                                 posted and where needed, fenced to prevent trespass
                                 cattle grazing. WDFW surveyors will perform the
                                 survey; wildlife area staff will post and fence.
                                 Timeframe: 2011 - 2012
                  Work Element 9: Protect the Area‟s habitat and wildlife by removing old
                                 fences, corrals, trash, refuse and other debris. Dispose of
                                 debris by recycling or removal to solid waste facility.
                                 Revegetate sites as needed to prevent spread of noxious
                                 weeds. Timeframe: 2010 and beyond as needed.
                  Work Element 10: Construct up to 1.5 miles of new fence and build
                                   locking gates of tubular steel at 3 access points to
                                   prevent trespass and dumping problems. Timeframe:
                                   2010 – 2011.
                  Work Element 11: Replace noxious weeds and non-native grasses in old
                                   agricultural fields on the Chester Butte and Bridgeport
                                   Units. Use a summer fallow prescription to replace
                                   these areas that currently provide a source for weed
                                   dispersal and are of little habitat value. Metric:
                                   approximately 300 acres treated during the 2010 - 2012
                                   period. We will treat 100-200 acres annually through
                                   2018.
                  Work Element 12: Purchase/replace equipment as needed to efficiently
                                   perform required habitat maintenance, weed control,
                                   herbaceous plantings, fence construction and
                                   maintenance and other ordinary tasks on a 12,500-acre
                                   wildlife area. Expected purchases include: ATV, 60hp
                                   tractor, disc harrow, tine-harrow, and seeding drill.
                                   Timeframe: Purchase/replace equipment as needed in
                                   2010 and beyond.
                  Work Element 13: Purchase 1-ton truck flat bed truck through a lease-to-
                                   buy program. This truck serve will as the area‟s „spray-
                                   rig‟ and will be used for weed control efforts on the
                                   12,718-acre wildlife area. Timeframe: 2010 - 2014.
                  Work Element 14: General project administration including but not limited
                                   to: producing reports, monitoring budgets, writing and
                                   implementing plans, supervising personnel, entering
                                   data into PISCES necessary for BPA contract,
                                   producing quarterly for reports for PISCES, annual
                                   project report for PISCES, annual updates to the area
                                   management plan, herbicide record keeping and
                                   reporting for BPA, Washington Department of
                                   Agricultural and WDFW, producing NPCC proposal in
                                   2012. Timeframe: 2010 and beyond.



FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10       25
                  Work Element 15: Attend public meetings, requests for presentations at
                                   local schools as needed to provide information about
                                   the wildlife area. Conduct meetings of the area‟s
                                   Citizen Advisory Group as needed. Timeframe: 2010
                                   and beyond.
                  Work Element 16: Monitor and evaluate mitigation project. Assist, as
                                   needed, to collect habitat and wildlife data to assess
                                   direction of habitat management activities. Results will
                                   guide adaptive management strategies on the area.
                                   Timeframe: 2010 and beyond.

Objective 2: Protect and increase riparian and wetland habitats on the wildlife area via
        implementation of the SFWA Management Plan. This advances the UMM‟s
        stated goal for riparian habitats to “provide sufficient quantity and quality
        riparian wetlands/herbaceous wetlands habitat to support the diversity of wildlife
        as represented by sustainable focal species.” This objective is supported the
        UMM‟s Habitat Objectives 2,3 (UMM page 195 and 197).

                  Work Element 1: Add and create riparian habitat on the Bridgeport Unit by
                                 planting trees and shrubs in suitable sites. Our goal is to
                                 increase the amount of available winter habitat for sharp-
                                 tailed grouse on the unit by as much as 10-12 acres by
                                 2012. Winter habitat has been identified as a limiting
                                 factor for sharp-tailed grouse in the state management
                                 plan and other publications. We focus on planting native
                                 deciduous species that provide cover, berries, seeds, buds
                                 and catkins that sharp-tailed grouse depend on in winter.
                                 Timeframe: 2010 and beyond as conditions and
                                 opportunities allow.
                  Work Element 2: Remove exotic tree species within riparian zones on the
                                 Bridgeport Unit (4 - 5 acres). We will cut down and
                                 remove Russian olive and Lombardy poplar trees that
                                 compete and crowd out desirable native species.
                                 Removal of these trees is essential to the success of our
                                 objective to increase the amount and distribution of
                                 winter habitat for sharp-tailed grouse. One to two years
                                 of follow-up control will be required prior to planting
                                 these sites with native trees and shrubs. Timeframe: 2011
                                 - 2012.
                  Work Element 3: Construct deer fence, 7 feet tall, to protect newly planted
                                 riparian sites from deer browsing. Long-term physical
                                 protection is essential to the success of the tree and shrub
                                 plantings on this unit. We have installed fence at six sites
                                 using a plastic fence material that is durable, effective
                                 and easy to work with. Timeframe: 2010 and beyond as
                                 conditions and opportunities allow.



FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10        26
                  Work Element 4: Install instream structures to control headcutting and
                                 erosion in Chapman Draw and West Foster Creek.
                                 Incised streambanks will be resloped and vegetated with
                                 native grasses, forbs and deciduous trees and shrubs.
                                 Timeframe: 2011 - 2012.

Objective 3: Protect and increase the populations of sharp-tailed and sage grouse on the
        SFWA and surrounding lands through strategies contained within the SFWA
        Management Plan. This objective is supported the UMM‟s Biological Objective
        2 (UMM page 195).

                  Work Element 1: Continue augmentation of sharp-tailed grouse on the
                                 Bridgeport Unit and surrounding lands. Travel to source
                                 populations in Idaho, Utah and/or British Columbia to
                                 trap, transport and release birds on the unit. This is
                                 essential to improve the genetic diversity and the fitness
                                 of the population. Augmentation of the state population
                                 is a strategy found in WDFW‟s management and
                                 recovery plans for sharp-tailed grouse. All birds will
                                 have blood samples taken for genetic research and
                                 disease screening. All birds will radio-collared and
                                 monitored over time by WDFW biologists. Timeframe:
                                 2010 and beyond as conditions and opportunities allow.
                  Work Element 2: Participate in augmentation of sage grouse to the SFWA
                                 and surrounding lands. Travel to source populations in
                                 Oregon to trap, transport and release birds on the wildlife
                                 area. This is essential to improve the genetic diversity
                                 and the fitness of the population. Augmentation of the
                                 state population is a strategy found in WDFW‟s
                                 management and recovery plans for sage grouse. All
                                 birds will have blood samples taken for genetic research
                                 and disease screening. All birds will radio-collared and
                                 monitored over time by WDFW biologists. We anticipate
                                 that this will begin by 2012.

Objective 4: Reestablish pygmy rabbits onto the SFWA. This is consistent with the goal
        of the WDFW‟s recovery plan for the pygmy rabbit. It is also consistent with
        the UMM‟s Biological Objective 3 (UMM page 195).

                  Work Element 1: Assist with any release efforts of captive bred pygmy
                                 rabbits on the SFWA during the 2010-2012 period. We
                                 anticipate that any monitoring will be by WDFW
                                 biologists and/or university graduate students.
                                 Timeframe: as conditions and opportunities allow.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10       27
Expected HU benefits derived from SFWA objectives:
Results of the 2007 follow-up HEP survey were previously discussed in section B.
Ashley (2007 and 2007a) reported an increase in HU values between 1999 and 2007 on
the Chester Butte, Dormaier and Bridgeport units. This increase was attributed to
SFWA‟s passive and active restoration efforts. During the 2010-2012 period SFWA will
continue these efforts on all units. As a result, we anticipate that HU values for will
increase.

We anticipate the greatest increase in HU‟s will be on those parcels purchased since 2005
where grazing has ceased and SFWA has begun active management. Within the old
agricultural fields where we will be replacing undesirable vegetation (Bridgeport units:
200 acres), these benefits will not be realized until the native grasses, forbs and shrubs
become fully established – a period of up to several years. Similarly, improvements to
riparian areas may take as long or longer for increases in HU‟s to be realized. It should
be noted that without the planned protection of riparian sites with fencing, deer browsing
would negate or eliminate any chance of improvement.

G. Monitoring and evaluation

WDFW scientist Mike Schroeder outlines monitoring and evaluation results for the
SFWA in Appendices A and B. Results of HEP surveys are listed in Section E. Project
History.

Prairie Grouse Augmentation: Schroeder et al. (2005) describe in detail the method
which will be used to re-establish sharp-tailed grouse in a WDFW Federal Aid Report.
WDFW will use methods for sage grouse re-establishment and monitoring described in
“Augmentation of the greater sage-grouse population on the Yakima Training Center in
Washington” (Livingston et al. 2004). The Guidelines for Re-Introductions developed by
the Re-Introduction Specialist Group of the IUCN‟s Species Survival Commission
(IUCN 1995) will be followed. Furthermore, the recommendations outlined by Reese
and Connelly (1997) will be considered. Movement of released birds will be monitored
with radio-telemetry.

The WDFW will release pygmy rabbit from other states using methods previously field-
tested (Westra 2004). Biologists will monitor future pygmy rabbit releases on the
wildlife area on a regular basis through radio telemetry to assess movement, survival and
release site suitability.

Breeding birds were also surveyed in the Dormaier and Chester Butte units as part of
research on shrubsteppe restoration between 2003 and 2005 (Vander Haegen et al. 2005).
Each study area had 4 points that were used for surveys of breeding birds.

H. Facilities and equipment

The SFWA is part of a three wildlife area complex which also includes the Wells
(Douglas County PUD mitigation project) and Chelan Wildlife Areas, with offices and


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10    28
shop facilities located in Brewster Washington. The SFWA owns one 150hp tractor, one
truck, one 15-foot wide field mower, one 6-foot wide field mower, two trailers, two
ATV‟s plus incidental small equipment and tools. In the past SFWA has been able to
rent or share major field equipment with the Wells Wildlife Area (tractors, discs,
cultivators, packers, seed drills, weed sprayers etc) in order to complete restoration
projects.

The demand for equipment on the Wells and Chelan Wildlife Areas is increasing making
it unavailable to the SFWA in time of need. This problem is aggravated since the
management needs and priorities on the SFWA are also increasing. Control of exotic
grasses and weeds will require establishment of permanent cover. We plan to replace
150-200 acres of these exotic grasses and weeds every year for at least the next ten years.
Consequently, scheduling equipment time, availability and logistics (travel time is more
than hour to reach some units of the SFWA) will be increasingly difficult. Over the next
3 years, 2010-2012 we will purchase field implements including: disc harrow, cultivator,
seed drill, packer, utility tractor, ATV and weed sprayer. These purchases will allow
WDFW to meet the goals and objectives listed in the preceding sections.

The Wells Wildlife Area Complex includes a fully equipped shop and office. The office
is equipped with necessary computer hardware and software along with email and fax
capabilities. Staffing includes two full time employee and three temporary employees
who work on WDFW‟s Wells /Chelan/SFWA Complex. Their respective resumes are
included in the “Key Personnel” section.

I. References

Ashley, Paul R. 2007. Dormaier and Chester Butte 2007 Follow-up Habitat Evaluation Procedures
        Report, Compiled for the Bonneville Power Administration and the Washington
        Department of Fish and Wildlife
Ashley, Paul R. 2007a. West Foster Creek 2007 Follow-up Habitat Evaluation Procedures Report,
        Compiled for the Bonneville Power Administration and the Washington Department of Fish
        and Wildlife
Berger, M., and D. Kuehn. 1992. Chief Joseph Dam loss assessment. Washington Department of
        Fish and Wildlife. Olympia.
Berger, M., and M. Cope. 1992. Tracy Rock sharp-tailed grouse and Douglas County pygmy
        rabbit site specific management plan. Project Report 1992. Bonneville Power
        Administration. Portland, Oregon. 57p.
Butler, B. R. 1972. The Holocene or postglacial ecological crises on the eastern
         Snake River plain. Tebiwa 15:49
Buss, I. O., E. S. Dziedzic. 1955. Relation of cultivation to the disappearance of the Columbian
        sharp-tailed grouse from southeastern Washington. Condor 57:185-187.
Connelly, J. W., M. W. Gratson, and K. P. Reese. 1998. Sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus
        phasianellus). No. 354. In A. Poole, and F. Gill, editors. The birds of North America. The
        Birds of North America, Incorporated, Philadelphia, PA. 20p.
Connelly, J. W., S. T. Knick, M. A. Schroeder, and s. J. Stiver. 2004. Conservation assessment of
        greater sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats. Western Association of Fish and Wildlife


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10     29
       Agencies. Cheyenne, WY.
Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Bulletin EB 1446. Washington State
       University Cooperative Extension. Pullman. 131p.
Dobler, F.C., J. Eby, C. Perry, S. Richardson, and M. Vander Haegen. 1996. Status of
       Washington‟s shrubsteppe ecosystem: extent, ownership, and wildlife/vegetation
       relationships. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA.
Giesen, K. M., and J. W. Connelly. 1993. Guidelines for management of Columbian sharp-tailed
       grouse habitats. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 21:325-333.

Grayson, D. K. 1987. The biogeographic history of small mammals in the Great Basin:
       observations on the last 20,000 years. J. Mammal. 68:359-375.
Green, J. S. and J. T. Flinders. 1980. Habitat and dietary relationships of the pygmy rabbit. J.
       Range Manage. 33(2): 136-142.
Hays, D. W., M. J. Tirhi, and D. W. Stinson. 1998. Washington State status report for the sharp-
       tailed grouse. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia. 57p.
Howerton, Jack. 1986. Wildlife protection, mitigation and enhancement planning for Grand
       Coulee Dam. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia. 121p.
IUCN The World Conservation Union. 1995. Guidelines for re-introductions. Prepared by the
       Re-Introduction Specialist Group. Approved by the 41st Meeting of Council, Gland,
       Switzerland.
John E. Jacobson, J.E. and M. Snyder. 2000. Shrubsteppe Mapping of Eastern Washington Using
       Landsat Sattelite Thematic Mapper Data.
Livingston, M. 2004. Augmentation of the greater sage-grouse population on the Yakima Training
       Center in Washington.
Lyman, R. L. 1991. Late quaternary biogeography of the pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis)
       in eastern Washington.
McDonald, M. W., and K. P. Reese. 1998. Landscape changes within the historical distribution of
       Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in eastern Washington: Is there hope? Northwest Science
       72:34-41.
[NPPC] Northwest Power Planning Council. 2000. Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife
       Program. Northwest Power Planning Council, Council Document 2000-19, Portland, OR.

[NPPC] Northwest Power Planning Council. 2002. Draft Mainstem Amendments to the Columbia
     River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

[NPPC] Northwest Power Planning Council. 2004. Upper Middle Mainstem Subbasin Plan.
       Northwest Power Planning Council, Portland, OR.
Reese, K.P. and J.W. Connelly. 1997. Translocations of sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus
       in North America. Wildl. Bio. 3:235-241.




Saylor, R. 2005. Reintroduction and Monitoring of Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit on Public and
        Private Lands in Eastern Washington (Landowner Incentive Program Grant Proposal)


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10   30
Schroeder, M. A., D. W. Hays, M. A. Murphy, and D. J. Pierce. 2000. Changes in the distribution
      and abundance of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in Washington. Northwestern Naturalist
      81:95-103.
Schroeder, M. A., D. W. Hays, M. F. Livingston, L. E. Stream, J. E. Jacobson, and D. J. Pierce.
      2000a. Changes in the distribution and abundance of sage grouse in Washington.
      Northwestern Naturalist 81:104-112.
Schroeder, M. A. et al. 2005. Re-establishing of Viable Populations of Columbian Sharp-tailed
      Grouse in Washington (WDFW Federal Aid Report)
Schroeder, M. A., and J. Almack. 2006. Terrestrial wildlife and habitat assessment on Bonneville
      Power Administration-funded wildlife areas in the state of Washington: Monitoring and
      evaluation activities of the past and recommendations for the future. Report, Washington
      Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA. 137p.
Schroeder, M. A., and W. M. Vander Haegen. 2006. Use of Conservation Reserve
      Program fields by greater sage-grouse and other shrubsteppe-associated wildlife in
      Washington state. Technical report prepared for US Department of Agriculture
      Farm
      Service Agency. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA.

Vander Haegen, W. M., F. C. Dobler, and D. J. Pierce. 2000. Shrubsteppe bird response to habitat
      and landscape variables in eastern Washington, USA. Conservation Biology 14:1145-1160.
Vander Haegen, W. M., S. M. McCorquodale, C. R. Peterson, G. A. Green, and E. Yensen. 2001.
       Wildlife communities of eastside shrubland and grassland habitats. In D. H. Johnson and T.
       A. O'Neil, editors. Wildlife-habitat relationships in Oregon and Washington. University of
       Oregon Press, Corvallis, Oregon.
Vander Haegen, W. M., M. A. Schroeder, S. S. Germaine, S. D. West, and R. A. Gitzen. 2005.
       Wildlife on Conservation Reserve Program lands and native shrubsteppe in Washington.
       Progress report: 2004. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 1995. Washington State management plan
       for sharp-tailed grouse. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia. 99p.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 1995a. Washington State management
       plan for sage grouse. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia. 101p.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 1998. Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area Work
       Plan. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia. 34p.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2000. Priority Habitats and Species.
       Web site. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2000a. 2000 Game Status and Trend
       Report. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia. 215p.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2001. Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area Work
       Plan Addendum. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia.
[WDFW] 2002. Final environmental impact statement for the game management plan.
       Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA.
[WDFW] 2003. Game Management Plan 2003-2009. Washington Department of Fish and
      Wildlife, Olympia, WA.
[WDFW] 2004. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Strategic Plan 2005-07 Biennium.
       Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2005c. Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10   31
       Management Plan (draft). Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2006. Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area
Management Plan. Wildlife Management Program, Olympia, WA. 57 pp.
[WDFW] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2008. Washington Department of Fish and
       Wildlife Strategic Plan 2009-2015. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia,
       WA
Weiss, N.T., and B.J. Verts. 1984. Habitat and distribution of pygmy rabbits (Sylvilagus
       idahoensis) in Oregon. Great Basin Nat. 44(4):107-109.
Westra, R. 2004. Behavior, Dispersal, and Survival of Captive-Raised Idaho Pygmy Rabbits
       (Brachylagus idahoensis) Released onto the INEEL in Idaho.
Yocom, C. F. 1952. Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Pedioecetes phasianellus columbianus) in the
     state of Washington. American Midland Naturalist 48:185-192.

J. Key personnel


                                           Marc Hallet

56 Moe Road
Brewster, WA 98812
(509) 686-4305

Education:

Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management, 1973
University of California at Humboldt, Arcata, California

Experience:

Fish and Wildlife Biologist 3 - Wildlife Area Manager, July 1975 to present for the
Wells, Chelan and SFWAs, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW),
Olympia, Washington.

Manage a 55,000-acre wildlife area complex (3 wildlife areas) for upland game, big
game, waterfowl and diversity species. This includes the following programs and
activities: agricultural developments, shrub and tree planting, wetland management,
artificial nesting, bird banding, public use and various other wildlife developments.
Administrative duties include: supervising two full time and three seasonal employees,
writing required plans and reports, managing and implementing three budgets,
monitoring wildlife and public use, writing and managing land leases.

Wildlife Recreation Area Assistant 2, July 1974 to June 1975




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10       32
L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, WDFW
Assist in the management of a big game area. Duties included administering land leases,
constructing and maintaining wildlife developments, writing and implementing budgets,
and enforcing fish and wildlife regulations.

Wildlife Recreation Area Assistant 1, July 1973 to July 1974

Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WDFW
Assist in the management of a big game area, including: establishing perennial and
annual cover and food plots, drawing maps from aerial photos, writing a base inventory
and winter feeding elk, deer and sheep,

Wildlife Recreation Area Assistant 1, April 1973 to June 1973

Lake Terrell Wildlife Area, WDFW
Assist in the management of a waterfowl area including farming grain crops and
maintaining wildlife developments and equipment.


                                           Daniel J. Peterson
PO Box 159
Bridgeport, WA 98813
(509) 686-3318

Education:

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
December 1989
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Bachelor of Science

Experience

Wildlife Biologist II – Wildlife Area Assistant Manager, Washington Department of Fish
and Wildlife, March 1999 to Present
Conduct and implement technical resource assessments and analysis. Collect and analyze
data and conduct habitat, agricultural use, public use and wildlife surveys. Monitor and
evaluate wildlife and habitat management programs. Conduct habitat evaluation
procedure (HEP) analysis. Provide statistical sampling of wildlife habitat data. Map
wildlife area resources and assess habitat suitability for key wildlife species (including
sage grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and pygmy rabbit which are state threatened and
endangered species). Develop, negotiate, administer and monitor agricultural leases and
grazing permits and assess associated benefits to wildlife. Plan, write, negotiate and
implement fire protection contracts with County fire districts to protect wildlife area
habitats. Assess, plan, initiate and direct the development and management of the
following: Annual wildlife food plots, woody habitat, range habitat restoration, Wildlife


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10           33
Area infrastructure, ponds, islands, habitat and boundary protection measures, shoreline
protection, springs, nesting structures, wildlife feeders, an invasive vegetation
management program, perennial herbaceous habitat, fire breaks and a fire control
program.
Wildlife Biologist I, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, June 1994 to March
1999
Collected radio telemetry data to assess habitat use and productivity of radio marked
sage, and sharp-tailed grouse in north-central Washington. Conducted spring lek counts
and trapped, banded and attached radio transmitters to birds trapped on display grounds.
Located nesting females and recorded vegetation data using standardized procedures such
as Robel height-density pole, cover board and line intercept methods. Conducted
roadside counts for blue grouse in the Wenatchee and Okanogan National Forests, and for
upland game birds in Douglas County.

Biological Technician (Wildlife), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Condor
Recovery Program, April 1992 - May 1994
Monitored daily movements of reintroduced California condors within and around the
Los Padres National Forest by using radio telemetry, and direct observation. Trapped,
banded, and recorded data from passerines trapped in mist nets as part of a Monitoring
Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) sponsored study. Trapped and banded
waterfowl in Alberta, Canada as part of a Fish and Wildlife Service detail. Administered
a budget of $17,000 for the purchase of fire and safety equipment.

Research Assistant, Hawk Ridge Research Station, Duluth, MN, September 1991-
November 1991
Trapped and banded migrating raptors by using mist nets and bow nets. All birds were
aged, sexed, and banded prior to release. Data recorded included; species, sex, age,
weight, wing and tail measurements. Sex and age were determined by feather molt and
wear as well as by weight.

Conservation Aid II, Missouri Department of Conservation, New Madrid, MO, May
1991-September 1991
Assisted in a study of habitat use and productivity of Mississippi Kites in southeast
Missouri. Trapped birds, recorded data, banded, and attached radio transmitters.

                                           Fidel Rios

P.0. Box 2033
Brewster, WA 98812
(509) 689-9212

Experience:

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Technician, April 1990 to present
Wells Wildlife Area, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife



FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10       34
Implement fish and wildlife enhancement projects on the wildlife area (WA) under the
direction of the WA Manager. Participate in habitat enhancement activities including
cultivating, planting, fertilizing, irrigating and spraying agricultural crops, shrubs and
trees. Construct and maintain roads and control weeds. Operate, maintain and repair an
extensive equipment inventory used in wildlife habitat management (including trucks,
vehicles, wheel and track tractor, back-hoe, shop tools, mowers, fire pumpers, and an
extensive set of tractor implements). Perform work in a variety of trades (carpentry,
plumbing, electrical, welding, mechanical, small engine repair, truck driving and heavy
equipment operation) to construct, repair and maintain wildlife and habitat developments
including buildings, roadways, fences, islands, ponds, irrigation systems, water cisterns,
spring developments and nest structures. Assist the WA Manager in analyzing work,
planning, budgeting, keeping records and reporting. Recommend practical wildlife and
habitat management practices (sylvicultural treatments, woody plantings, food plots,
erosion control, etc.) Conduct experiments to develop new and innovative methods to
establish wildlife food and cover. Assist with wildlife surveys and investigate WA
related problems. Contact the public and respond to complaints and requests for
information. Ensure the safe conditions for the public and maintain good public
relations.

Education:

High School Graduation, 1986


                                           Additional staff

In addition to permanent SLWA management staff, temporary technicians are employed
for 10-15 months each year (paid with project funds), to assist with fence maintenance,
weed control and other labor-intensive activities. WDFW wildlife biologists assist
SLWA staff with monitoring wildlife populations and vegetation. WDFW Vegetation
Management Team Members assist with design and implementation of habitat
manipulation/farming practices.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10          35
Appendix A.


                                      Monitoring and evaluation
                                  Prepared by Dr. Michael Schroeder

General

        The NPPC (2000) consistently recognizes the importance of monitoring and
evaluation activities in their fish and wildlife program. For example, “the program
includes procedures for monitoring and evaluating biological benefits gained by actions
taken under the program. The evaluation process feeds information back into the
program planning and project review process, with adaptive management mechanisms
for revising program objectives or actions if what has been adopted proves unsuccessful”
(NPPC 2000:11). “The purpose of the monitoring and evaluation strategies is to assure
that the effects of actions taken under this program are measured, that these
measurements are analyzed so that we have better knowledge of the effects of the action,
and that this improved knowledge is used to choose future actions” (NPPC 2000:32).

        Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEPs) were developed by the US Fish and
Wildlife Service (USFWS) to quantify the quality and abundance of available habitat for
selected wildlife species. HEPs are based on ecological principles and the assumption
that habitat for selected wildlife species can be described as a numerical value based on a
Habitat Suitability Index (HSI). This value is derived from an evaluation of the ability of
key habitat components to supply the resource needs of focal species of fish and wildlife.
The HSI values (ranging from 0.0 for no value to a maximum of 1.0) are multiplied by
the area of available habitat to obtain Habitat Units (HUs), which are for mitigation
purposes, the „currency‟ used to measure/compare habitat losses and gains (Schroeder et
al. 2008). Completion of baseline and periodic (preferably at 5-year intervals) HEPs is a
fundamental requirement for management of the mitigation areas.

        Although HEPs certainly provide information that can be used in the monitoring
and evaluation of wildlife areas, they are only a small part of a complete program (see
Kalispel Tribe 2006 for illustration and discussion of this issue). A complete monitoring
and evaluation program should include additional features; such as permanent reference
points, restoration/treatment points, sampling efforts for wildlife species, and integration
of wildlife and habitat data.

        Although the WDFW currently depends primarily on HEPs for baseline and
restoration/treatment habitat, additional habitat points will be randomly selected within
each mapped habitat type and within specific management units. These additional points
will help to increase the sample size within habitat/management types as well as
providing a method for directly linking habitat data with wildlife data. Methodologies for
collection of habitat data are consistent with established techniques (AFIWG 2001,
Hallett and O‟Connell 2005, Schroeder et al. 2008), including transects radiating out
from center points (for evaluating shrubs) and microplots spaced along transects (for
evaluating herbaceous plants). In the case of points in wooded areas or forests, the center


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10         36
points will be used for larger plots to assess tree density, composition, size, and height
(modified from Schroeder et al. 2008). Center points will be the focal points for bird and
mammal monitoring (Schroeder and Vander Haegen 2006).

        Because of the large number of wildlife areas and expansive acreage managed by
the WDFW, monitoring of habitat will take place on a 5-year rotation, except for
reference sites, which will be monitored annually. Breeding bird surveys will be
conducted during the same year habitat data is collected, and likely annually, at least until
annual variance in numbers is assessed. Small mammal surveys will be conducted every
5 years, using techniques that have already been establish (West et al. 2007). Although
surveys of reptiles and amphibians are also possible, our experience so far has been that
observations of reptiles are relatively infrequent, and therefore difficult to quantify.
Consistency of data collection will be improved by having the same individuals collect
data on multiple wildlife areas within a year.

         Preliminary surveys have been conducted on many of the wildlife areas enabling a
brief assessment of data collected to this point. Not all wildlife areas have been surveyed
at this stage, primarily because of the time and money required to initiate surveys. In
addition, other techniques have been used that are species-specific, such as surveys of
traditional display grounds (leks) of sharp-tailed grouse and greater sage-grouse, aerial
surveys of ungulates, counts of pellets, and other miscellaneous surveys (Schroeder et al.
2008). Although these techniques are different than standard breeding bird point counts,
they are still standard and well-referenced in scientific literature. A substantial portion of
the data has been summarized, including an examination of long-term trends (Schroeder
et al. 2008). Habitat data is generally available only for HEP transects at this stage.
Future data analyses will focus on comparison of treatment sites with reference sites and
with the probabilistic Jaccard (Chao 2004) as a way of measuring species similarity
between sites. The specific list of tasks includes the following:

          1. Conduct habitat/wildlife surveys on systematic basic.

          2. Monitor habitat/wildlife response due to burns.

          3. Monitor habitat/wildlife response to specific restoration efforts.

          4. Monitor infestations and treatments of noxious weeds.

          5. Compile habitat/wildlife data in databases for subsequent storage and analysis.

          6. Analyze habitat – wildlife relationships in reference to management targets.

          7. Re-evaluate management direction in terms of updated species-habitat
             evaluations (adaptive management).

References

AFIWG. 2001. Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for the Albeni Falls Wildlife Mitigation
     Project. Albeni Falls Interagency Work Group.


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10       37
Chao, A., R. L. Chazdon, R. K. Colwell, and T.-J. Shen. 2003. A new statistical
       approach for assessing similarity of species composition with incidence and
       abundance data. Ecology Letters 8:148-159.

Hallett, J. G., and M. A. O‟Connell. 2005. Monitoring vertebrate populations and their
        habitat: Kalispel Tribe habitat restoration project. Report, Eastern Washington
        University, Cheney, WA.

Kalispel Tribe. 2006. Proposal 199206100: Albeni Falls Wildlife Mitigation. Proposal
       to Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority, Portland, OR.
       http://www.cbfwa.org/solicitation/components/forms/Proposal.cfm?PropID=171.

NPPC. 2000. Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. Northwest Power Planning Council,
       Council Document 2000-19, Portland, Oregon, USA.

Schroeder, M. A., and W. M. Vander Haegen. 2006. Use of Conservation Reserve
      Program fields by greater sage-grouse and other shrubsteppe-associated wildlife
      in Washington state. Technical report prepared for U.S. Department of
      Agriculture Farm Service Agency. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife,
      Olympia, WA.

Schroeder, M. A., P. R. Ashley, and M. Vander Haegen. 2008. Terrestrial wildlife and
      habitat assessment on Bonneville Power Administration-funded Wildlife Areas in
      the State of Washington: Monitoring and evaluation activities of the past and
      recommendations for the future. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife,
      Olympia, WA.

West, S. D., R. A. Gitzen, and M. R. Kroeger. 2007. Small mammals of eastern
       Washington shrubsteppe and Conservation Reserve Program lands. Report,
       University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Key Support Personnel

Michael A. Schroeder

Education and Certification:
Ph.D., Colorado State University, Wildlife Biology; 1990
M.Sc., University of Alberta, Zoology; 1985
B.Sc., Texas A&M University, Wildlife Ecology; 1980
Certified Wildlife Biologist; 1994

Current Employer, responsibilities, and expertise:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Responsibilities include: 1) evaluation of the status, management, and restoration of
prairie grouse populations; 2) monitoring and evaluation of wildlife and habitats on
wildlife areas in the state of Washington; 3) preparation of reports and publications. Dr.
Schroeder has 28 years of direct work-related experience in these areas, that last 17 of
which were for the state of Washington.
Relevant publications and reports:


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10        38
Schroeder, M. A., P. R. Ashley, and M. Vander Haegen. 2008. Terrestrial wildlife and habitat assessment
        on Bonneville Power Administration-funded wildlife areas in Washington: monitoring and
        evaluation activities. Report for BPA. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia,
        Washington.

Aldridge, C. L., S. E. Nielsen, H. L. Beyer, M. S. Boyce, J. W. Connelly, S. T. Knick, and M. A.
        Schroeder. 2008. Range-wide patterns of greater sage-grouse persistence. Diversity and
        Distributions. 19:983-994.

Schroeder, M. A. 2008. Translocation and recovery of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse into critical areas of
        north-central Washington. P-R Project Report. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife,
        Olympia, Washington.

Schroeder, M. A. 2008. Behavior and population response of greater sage-grouse to the Conservation
        Reserve Program in Washington State. P-R Project Report. Washington Department of Fish and
        Wildlife, Olympia, Washington.

Stiver, S., T. Apa, J. Bohne, D. Bunnell, P. Deibert, S. Gardner, M. Hilliard, C. McCarthy, M. A.
          Schroeder. 2007. Greater sage-grouse comprehensive conservation strategy. Western
          Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Connelly, J. W., and M. A. Schroeder. 2007. Historical and current approaches to monitoring to
        monitoring greater sage-grouse. Pages 3-9 in K. P. Reese and R. T. Bowyer, editors. Monitoring
        populations of sage-grouse. College of Natural Resources Experiment Station, University of
        Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA.

Hagen, C. A., J. W. Connelly, and M. A. Schroeder. 2007. A meta-analysis of greater sage-grouse
        Centrocercus urophasianus nesting and brood-rearing habitats. Wildlife Biology 13:42-50.

Schroeder, M. A., and L. A. Robb. 2005. Techniques for evaluating sex and age of North American
        wildlife. Chapter in 6th edition of Techniques for managing wildlife and their habitats. The
        Wildlife Society. In press.

Robb, L. A., and M. A. Schroeder. 2005. Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus): A technical
        conservation assessment. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.
        http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/projects/scp/assessments/lesserprairiechicken.pdf.

Robb, L. A., and M. A. Schroeder. 2005. Greater prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido): A technical
        conservation assessment. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.
        http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/projects/scp/assessments/greaterprairiechicken.pdf.

Schroeder, M. A., C. L. Aldridge, A. D. Apa, J. R. Bohne, C. E. Braun, S. D. Bunnell, J. W. Connelly, P.
        A. Deibert, S. C. Gardner, M. A. Hilliard, G. D. Kobriger, S. M. McAdam, C. W. McCarthy, J. J.
        McCarthy, D. L. Mitchell, E. V. Rickerson, and S. J. Stiver. 2004. Distribution of sage-grouse in
        North America. The Condor 106:363-376.

Braun, C. E., J. W. Connelly, and M. A. Schroeder. 2004. Seasonal habitat requirements for sage-grouse:
        spring, summer, fall, and winter. In N. L. Shaw, S. B. Monsen, M. Pellant, editors. Sage-grouse
        habitat restoration symposium proceedings: 2001 June 4-7; Boise, ID. Rocky Mountain Research
        Station. In press.

Connelly, J. W., S. T. Knick, M. A. Schroeder, and S. J. Stiver. 2004. Conservation assessment of greater
        sage-grouse and sagebrush habitats. Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Report.
        Cheyenne, Wyoming.



FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10             39
Crawford, J. A., R. A. Olson, N. E. West, J. C. Mosley, M. A. Schroeder, T. D. Whitson, R. F. Miller, M.
        A. Gregg, and C. S. Boyd. 2004. Ecology and management of sage-grouse and sage-grouse
        habitats. Journal of Range Management 57:2-19.

Stinson, D. W., D. W. Hays, M. A. Schroeder. 2004. Washington state recovery plan for the greater sage-
         grouse. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Olympia, Washington.

Bunting, S. C., J. L. Kingery, and M. A. Schroeder. 2003. Assessing the restoration potential of altered
         rangeland ecosystems in the Interior Columbia Basin. Ecological Restoration 21:77-86.

Connelly, J. W., K. P. Reese, and M. A. Schroeder. 2003. Monitoring of greater sage-grouse habitats and
        populations. Station Bulletin 80. College of Natural Resources Experiment Station, Moscow,
        Idaho.

Knick, S. T., D. S. Dobkin, J. T. Rotenberry, M. A. Schroeder, W. M. Vander Haegen, and C. Van Riper
        III. 2003. Teetering on the edge or too late? Conservation and research issues for avifauna of
        sagebrush habitats. The Condor 105:611-634.

Bunting, S. C., J. L. Kingery, M. A. Hemstrom, M. A. Schroeder, R. A. Gravenmier, and W. J. Hann.
         2002. Altered rangeland ecosystems in the interior Columbia Basin. General Technical Report
         PNW-GTR-553. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research
         Station, Portland, OR.

Schroeder, M. A., D. W. Hays, M. A. Murphy, and D. J. Pierce. 2000. Changes in the distribution and
        abundance of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in Washington. Northwest Naturalist 81:95-103.

Schroeder, M. A., D. W. Hays, M. F. Livingston, L. E. Stream, J. E. Jacobson, and D. J. Pierce. 2000.
        Changes in the distribution and abundance of sage grouse in Washington. Northwest Naturalist
        81:104-112.

Connelly, J. W., M. A. Schroeder, A. R. Sands, and C. E. Braun. 2000. Guidelines for management of
        sage grouse populations and habitat. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28:967-985.

Schroeder, M. A., J. R. Young, and C. E. Braun. 1999. Sage grouse. In The birds of North America, No.
        425 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. 28pp.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10             40
APPENDIX B.



        Monitoring and evaluation – data for Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area
                      Prepared by Dr. Michael Schroeder

Habitat

        HEP transects have been conducted on all four units with the Sagebrush Flat
Wildlife Area. A preliminary assessment of habitat on the different units shows some
basic differences in the characteristics of the primary shrubsteppe habitat (Table 1).
Within the shrubsteppe habitat, Dormaier has the highest shrub cover, Chester Butte has
the highest herbaceous cover, Sagebrush Flat has the lowest exotic weed cover, and
Bridgeport has the highest weed cover.


    Table 1. Preliminary summary of data from HEP transects on the Sagebrush Flat
  Wildlife Area. Data were collected on the Sagebrush Flat and Dormaier units in 1996
and on the Chester Butte and Bridgeport units in 1999. Other habitats were also sampled,
                  but the sample sizes were too small to consider here.

Habitat parameter    Sagebrush Flat         Dormaier      Chester Butte     Bridgeport
Number of transects         3                   2               6               11
VOR (cm)                   5.9                 5.3             3.7
Shrub cover (%)           19.3                41.1            15.5              25.4
Shrub height (m)           0.6                 0.5             0.5
Herbaceous cover (%)      30.2                20.2            70.5
Grass cover (%)                                               61.4              42.2
Forb cover (%)                                                 8.8              18.8
Exotic cover (%)           0.2                   3.4           7.8               9.7

Mule Deer

        Surveys for mule deer are regularly conducted in the region, not specifically
associated with the wildlife area, but to monitor populations and harvest. Both aerial and
ground surveys are used to monitor populations and sex ratio. Surveys are conducted
before and after the harvest, and sightability is considered in the population estimates.
Check stations and questionnaires are also used to estimate the harvest. The two GMUs
containing the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area had an estimated harvest of 200 bucks and 1
doe in 2004. Population and harvest estimates are not specifically available for the
Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area. In 2004 and 2005 pellet surveys were used to compare
habitat use by mule deer on the wildlife area with habitat use in other nearby locations
(western 24 study areas in Fig. 25). Each site consisted of 16-50m2 plots. Although most
of the 24 areas were in CRP fields, two of the areas were on the SFWA; one on the
Dormaier Unit and one on the Chester Butte Unit. Fifteen pellet groups (0.019/m2) were



FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10    41
found on the Chester Butte Unit and 38 pellet groups (0.048/m2) were found on the
Dormaier Unit.

Prairie Grouse

         The wildlife area is in the range of both sharp-tailed grouse and greater sage
grouse. Surveys have documented long-term declines statewide for each species (Fig. 1,
Fig. 2, respectively). The 2008 population estimate for sharp-tailed grouse in the
immediate vicinity of the Bridgeport Unit of the SFWA is 56 (about 15 higher than the
10-year average, Fig. 3). The 2008 population estimate for greater sage-grouse in the
Moses Coulee population (near Sagebrush Flat, Chester Butte, and Dormeier units) was
491 (Fig. 4).


                         Fig. 1. Estimated sharp-tailed grouse population in Washington, 1965-2008.

                        4500


                        4000


                        3500
  4




                        3000
  Population estimate




                        2500


                        2000


                        1500


                        1000


                        500


                           0
                           1964   1968   1972   1976   1980   1984   1988   1992   1996   2000   2004   2008




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                       42
                         Fig. 2. Estimated greater sage-grouse population in Washington, 1961-2008.


                        3000



                        2500
  4




                        2000
  Population estimate




                        1500



                        1000



                         500



                              0
                              1960   1964   1968   1972   1976   1980        1984   1988   1992   1996   2000     2004   2008


 Fig. 3. Estimated sharp-tailed grouse population near the Bridgeport Unit of Sagebrush
                             Flat Wildlife Area, 1990-2008.


                        120



                        100
  4




                        80
  Population estimate




                        60



                        40



                        20



                          0
                          1990                 1994               1998                     2002                 2006




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                                43
Fig. 4. Estimated greater sage-grouse population in Douglas County, Washington, 1961-
                                         2008.


                        1500




                        1200
  4
  Population estimate




                        900




                        600




                        300




                           0
                           1960   1964   1968   1972   1976   1980        1984   1988   1992   1996   2000   2004   2008




        Although the population of sage-grouse has declined over the long-term, it
appears to have fluctuated around a relatively consistent mean of about 600 for the last 30
years. All of the sage-grouse leks described here are actually on private land (none are
on the wildlife area). Consequently, they do not provide a direct opportunity to monitor
sage-grouse numbers on the specific units of the wildlife area. Nevertheless, the leks are
very close to the wildlife area boundaries and telemetry data for radio-marked sage-
grouse has shown that females nest and both sexes winter on the wildlife area. The
sharp-tailed grouse has shown some positive signs near the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area.
Some of this apparent increase appears to be due to the translocation of birds into the area
and improvements in habitat.

        In 2004 and 2005, research was initiated using counts of grouse droppings as an
indication of presence/absence, abundance, and habitat use. Twenty-four study areas
were chosen (same sites discussed above for mule deer), each site with 16-50m2 plots.
The Dormaier Unit area averaged 0.126 sage-grouse droppings/m2 and the Chester Butte
Unit averaged 0.001 dropping/m2. The same plots also enabled an examination of the
abundance of white-tailed jackrabbits and mountain cottontail. On the Chester Butte Unit
the density of jackrabbit pellets was 0.480/m2 and the density of cottontail pellets was
0.195/m2. The densities were 0.070/m2 and 0.794/m2 on the Dormaier Unit for jackrabbit
and cottontail, respectively.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                             44
General Bird Surveys
                                                    Bridgeport Unit

        Annual breeding bird surveys were conducted on and near the Bridgeport Unit of
the SFWA between 1994 and 2005 (surveys conducted every year except 2004). Surveys
were designed to sample 10 „control‟ (off the wildlife area) and 10 „treatment‟ (on the
wildlife area) sites. In addition, survey points were selected to reflect the two primary
habitats, shrubsteppe and riparian wetland. The analysis was conducted with a general
linear model using the number of birds as the dependent variable, and treatment (on or off
the study area), habitat (shrubsteppe or riparian wetland), and year (continuous variable
between 1994 and 2005) as independent variables.

        During these surveys, coyote, mule deer, and mountain cottontail were the only
mammals detected, but signs of beaver were also observed in Fye Draw, which was a
control point in a riparian wetland when this survey was first designed in 1994. Sixty-
two bird species were detected, 27 of which were detected infrequently (< 0.05
detections/point) and an additional 7 were not significant for treatment, habitat, or year.
An additional 18 species had significantly different abundance on shrubsteppe and
riparian wetland sites (Table 2); five of these species also had significant annual variation
(European starling and vesper sparrow increasing and yellow warbler, Brewer‟s sparrow,
and western meadowlark decreasing). Two species significantly varied by treatment
(Table 3); the common raven also appeared to be significantly increasing. Seven species
significantly varied by treatment and habitat type (Table 4); two of these also had
significant annual variation (grasshopper sparrow declining and song sparrow
increasing). The northern flicker (average of 0.055 detections/point) had no detectable
variation associated with either treatment or habitat type, but appeared to be increasing
during the study (P=0.0070).
   Table 2. Results for breeding bird surveys, between 1994 and 2005, on and near the
   Bridgeport Unit of the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area, showed that 9 species showed
significant differences between Shrubsteppe (SS) and Riparian Wetland (RW) sites. Four
         of the species also showed significant correlations associated with year.

                                              Birds/Point                          Probability
Bird Species                                SS          RW            Slopea   Habitat      Slope
Mallard                                    0.000       0.264                   0.0068
Common snipe                               0.000       0.164                   0.0003
Killdeer                                   0.027       0.191                   0.0084
Spotted sandpiper                          0.018       0.209                   0.0058
Red-tailed hawk                            0.018       0.155                   0.0413
California quail                           0.336       1.109                   0.0001
Mourning dove                              0.636       1.227                   0.0003
Western kingbird                           0.018       0.182                   0.0102
Western wood-pewee                         0.000       0.264                   0.0001
Bank swallow                               0.118       0.764                   0.0492
House wren                                 0.000       0.755                   0.0001
American robin                             0.091       0.682                   0.0001
European starling                          0.000       0.409          0.024    0.0001      0.0202


FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                  45
Yellow warbler              0.000        0.227        -0.013      0.0002      0.0293
Vesper sparrow              2.364        0.891        0.050       0.0001      0.0030
Brewer's sparrow            1.227        0.418        -0.032      0.0001      0.0254
Western meadowlark          3.373        2.591        -0.061      0.0001      0.0001
Northern oriole             0.000        0.227                    0.0001
 a
   Values for slope are given only when the relationship between abundance and year is
                                       significant.


   Table 3. Results for breeding bird surveys, between 1994 and 2005, on and near the
    Bridgeport Unit of the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area, showed that 2 species showed
   significant differences between Control and Treatment sites. One of the species also
                    showed significant correlations associated with year.

                               Birds/Point                            Probability
                                                            a
Bird Species               Control Treatment          Slope     Treatment      Slope
Common raven                0.036        0.136        0.019       0.0267      0.0061
Rock wren                   0.018        0.109                    0.0056
 a
   Values for slope are given only when the relationship between abundance and year is
                                       significant.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10    46
   Table 4. Results for breeding bird surveys, between 1994 and 2005, on and near the
   Bridgeport Unit of the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area, showed that 6 species showed
  significant differences between Control and Treatment sites and between Shrubsteppe
    (SS) and Riparian Wetland (RW) sites. Two of the species also showed significant
                             correlations associated with year.
                                  Birds/Point
                            Control       Treatment                  Probability
                                                             a
Bird Species               SS RW           SS RW Slope Treatment Habitat Slope
Eastern kingbird          0.000 0.182 0.073 0.436               0.0051   0.0001
Cliff swallow             0.018 3.836 0.000 0.000               0.0002   0.0003
Barn swallow              0.018 0.200 0.000 0.000               0.0057   0.0210
Sage thrasher             0.291 0.073 0.055 0.018               0.0012   0.0044
Grasshopper sparrow       0.073 0.018 0.291 0.109 -0.020 0.0013          0.0132 0.0046
Song sparrow              0.018 0.382 0.200 0.545 0.029 0.0162           0.0001 0.0066
Red-winged blackbird 0.018 1.164 0.345 1.836                    0.0234   0.0001
 a
   Values for slope are given only when the relationship between abundance and year is
                                        significant.

        Results for the breeding bird surveys on the Bridgeport Unit were examined
within two habitats to evaluate relationships between species. Five species were
significantly more abundant in shrubsteppe than in riparian wetland habitats including
vesper sparrow, Brewer‟s sparrow, western meadowlark, sage thrasher, and grasshopper
sparrow; four of these species showed significant trends between 1994 and 2005
(grasshopper sparrow, Brewer‟s sparrow, and western meadowlark were down and vesper
sparrow was up). Many species were more common in riparian wetlands including:
mallard, sora, American coot, common snipe, killdeer, spotted sandpiper, red-tailed
hawk, California quail, mourning dove, eastern kingbird. western kingbird. western
wood-pewee, bank swallow, cliff swallow, barn swallow, house wren, marsh wren,
American robin, European starling, yellow warbler, song sparrow, and red-winged
blackbird (regardless of sample size issues). Three of these species illustrated significant
trends between 1994 and 2005; the European starling and song sparrow were increasing
and the yellow warbler was decreasing.

        Audubon-sponsored Christmas Bird Counts were conducted near Bridgeport
starting in 1996. These counts completely included the Bridgeport Unit of the Sagebrush
Flat Wildlife Area. The vast majority of the 141 species and the annual average of
21,000 birds were associated with the Columbia River and the habitats close to the river.
Nevertheless, the Bridgeport Unit was characterized by many raptors (golden eagle, bald
eagle, northern harrier, red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, American kestrel, Cooper‟s
hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, prairie falcon, and northern goshawk. In addition great-
horned owl, short-eared owl, sharp-tailed grouse, chukar, gray partridge, ring-necked
pheasant, and many riparian wetland birds were observed. Most of the typical
shrubsteppe birds, other than the horned lark, were not present because they had migrated
off their breeding range. No attempt was made to evaluate trends.




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10     47
                                           Dormaier and Chester Butte Units

        Breeding birds were examined in the Dormaier and Chester Butte units as part of
research on shrubsteppe restoration between 2003 and 2005 (Table 5). Forty-eight study
areas were examined throughout north-central Washington in shrubsteppe and CRP
habitats. One study area was placed in the Dormaier Unit and one was placed in the
Chester Butte Unit; each study area had 4 points that were used for surveys of breeding
birds. Each of the study areas was surveyed twice each year.
     Table 5. Results for breeding bird surveys, between 2003 and 2005, on relatively
   continuous shrubsteppe habitat on the Dormaier (DU) and Chester Butte unit (CBU).

                                                 Birds detected by area               Probability
Bird Species                                     DU             CBU                 Area     Year
Ring-necked pheasant                            0.000           0.000              0.0001
California quail                                0.000           0.000              0.0001   0.0432
Savannah sparrow                                0.000           0.000              0.0006
Brewer's sparrow                                4.250           3.500              0.0279
Sage sparrow                                    0.625           0.000              0.0037
Western meadowlark                              1.750           3.250              0.0001   0.0395
Brown-headed cowbird                            0.875           0.000              0.0001   0.0019

        The shrubsteppe research between 2003 and 2005 also considered the presence
and success of nests (Table 6). A total of 244 nests were found for 9 species on the
Dormaier and Chester Butte units. The Brewer‟s sparrow was the most abundant,
particularly on the Dormaier Unit, followed by the vesper sparrow and sage thrasher. All
three species are closely associated with sagebrush-dominated shrubsteppe habitats. In
contrast, nests for the savannah sparrow, which apparently prefers grass-dominated
shrubsteppe, were not found.
    Table 6. Number of nests and nest success, between 2003 and 2005, on relatively
  continuous shrubsteppe habitat on the Dormaier and Chester Butte units. Success rate
                          only provided for samples greater than 10.

                                                Dormaier Unit                 Chester Butte Unit
Bird Species                                 N             %                   N             %
Mourning dove                                 3                                6
Horned lark                                   1
Sage thrasher                                18           44.44                6
Loggerhead shrike                             1                                1
Grasshopper sparrow                                                            1
Brewer's sparrow                            100                58.00          40             75.00
Sage sparrow                                  5
Vesper sparrow                               29                62.07          27             70.37
Western meadowlark                            1                                5




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10                  48
                                             Sagebrush Flat Unit

         Although the Sagebrush Flat Unit is monitored annually for breeding birds, the
data is not yet available. Because the data has been collected over a longer time interval
than the breeding bird surveys conducted as part of the shrubsteppe restoration study, it
should be useful for examining trends. There is also a USGS Breeding Bird Survey
associated with the Moses Coulee. Six points on the 50-point survey were considered in
an analysis because of the similarity of the basic shrubsteppe habitat with the Sagebrush
Unit and because the points were relatively close (within 1 km of the unit). None of the
data illustrated significant long-term trends, although the western meadowlark was close
(slope of –0.0165, P = 0.0551).

Miscellaneous Surveys
Surveys for reptiles and amphibians were conducted on the Dormaier and Chester Butte
        units of the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area. The largest number and greatest
        diversity was found in continuous shrubsteppe habitat rather than in fragmented
        shrubsteppe or CRP. The reptiles found include racer, western rattlesnake, gopher
        snake, western terrestrial garter snake, night snake, western skink, short-horned
        lizard. In addition, the great-basin spadefoot toad, long-toed salamander, and
        tiger salamander were found. The most common species found was the short-
        horned lizard.
Surveys for mammals were conducted on, and near, the Dormaier and Chester Butte units
        of the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area. Ten species were captured, but the most
        common was the deer mouse, followed by Great Basin pocket mouse, sagebrush
        vole, western harvest mouse, and least chipmunk (Table 7). Because of the
        preliminary nature of the data, it is not possible to compare habitat types.
        However, it is likely that when the data is fully analyzed, it will provide useful
        insight into the structures of habitats as well as the configuration of landscapes.
    Table 7. Preliminary data on mammals, from 2003-2005 research on shrubsteppe
 restoration in north-central Washington. Small mammals were trapped on the Dormaier
                  and Chester Butte units of Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area.

                                             Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area
Mammal species
                                           Dormaier Unit    Chester Butte Unit
Merriam‟s shrew                                  5                    0
Vagrant shrew                                    4                   14
Least chipmunk                                  30                   17
Northern pocket gopher                           0                    0
Great Basin pocket mouse                        55                  114
Deer mouse                                     267                  293
Western harvest mouse                            5                   20
Sagebrush vole                                  78                   40
Long-tailed vole                                 0                    1
Montane vole                                     0                    5




FY 2007-09 Project Selection, Section 10              49

				
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