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PostFri Aug 27, 2021 9:30 am 
Friday August 27, 2021 08:46 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW to use controlled burns on wildlife areas in Thurston County to restore prairie habitat


OLYMPIA – Starting as soon as Monday, Aug. 30, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will conduct controlled burns to restore prairie habitat on two wildlife area units in Thurston County.

The burns are weather dependent and scheduled for up to five days through mid-October at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area Unit northeast of Rochester and the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area Unit northwest of Tenino. The areas targeted for burning are small, varying in size from one to 10 acres.

“Portions of the wildlife areas may be closed during the burns, and people may see smoke from the fires for one to two hours after the burns,” said Darric Lowery, the wildlife area manager. “We will be working to minimize smoke impacts to homes and the surrounding community.”

WDFW works cooperatively with Washington Department of Natural Resources, fire districts, and other partners, using professional fire crews experienced with successfully conducting controlled burns on public and private lands in the region.

Lowery said the Department uses prescribed fire to maintain native grassland habitats, also known as prairies, and control invasive weeds before seeding and planting native species.

Westside prairies are one of the rarest ecosystems in Washington, now reduced to less than 3% of their original area. They support a variety of rare plants and animals, including birds, mammals, and butterflies, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Aug 27, 2021 10:04 am 
From: Ski
Sent: Friday, August 27, 2021 10:01 AM
To: darric.lowery@dfw.wa.gov
Cc: Kelly Susewind
Subject: WDFW proposed controlled burns at Scatter Creek and West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Areas

Mr. Darric Lowery, Wildlife Area Manager
Mr. Kelly Susewind, Director, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife

re: Controlled burns proposed at Scatter Creek and West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Areas

Mr. Lowery:

I fully support and encourage the continued controlled burning at all of the Scatter Creek units.
We have visited the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area several times over the last few years, and I have made note of the extensive use of fire on the unit to restore the original ecosystem. The only way to meet your management objectives is to continue, as was done historically in the pre-Columbian era, to assure that the prairie areas are kept open and invasive species of flora are kept at bay.

Anybody who has any questions about my statement above should take a look at my email to your own Staci Lehman (from last April) concerning a proposal to do some controlled burning over in eastern Washington:
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1208611#1208611
No reason for me to type all that out again – just scroll down a bit.
The “anti-burn” crowd is simply poorly informed where it concerns the historical management of the north American continent by its original inhabitants.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Sep 10, 2021 5:27 pm 
Friday September 10, 2021 17:06 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW-managed lands in Eastern Washington will reopen to overnight use Sep. 16 with BURN BAN STILL IN EFFECT


SPOKANE – In response to decreased fire risk and cooler temperatures, wildlife areas managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will reopen to overnight use starting Thursday, Sep. 16.

The only wildlife area in Eastern Washington that remains closed until further notice is the Oak Creek Wildlife Area Unit due to the active Schneider Springs Fire. Access to campgrounds in the Methow Unit of the Methow Wildlife Area will reopen on Friday, Sep. 17 when the U.S. Forest Service plans to reopen East and West Chewuch roads.

“We’re excited to reopen WDFW-managed lands in Eastern Washington to overnight use in advance of most hunting seasons,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, Lands Division Manager for WDFW. “This has been another bad fire year, and we have appreciated the public’s help protecting wildlife habitat and public safety. We are lifting restrictions on camping in many areas, but there is still a risk of wildfire, and we urge people to obey burn bans and take proper precautions.”

An emergency order issued in late June is still in effect and enforced on WDFW-managed lands east of the Cascades through the end of September.

The order prohibits:

- Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings. Personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.

- Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.

- The discharge of firearms for target-shooting or other purposes by anyone not engaged in lawful hunting.

- Welding and operating chainsaws, including the use of an acetylene torch or other open flame.

- Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

- Members of the public engaged in these high-risk activities will be ticketed as WDFW enforcement officers will be applying a zero-tolerance approach.

For more information on wildfire prevention and to plan your trip to a WDFW wildlife or water access area, visit WDFW's website.

For the latest information on fires in Washington, visit the Department of Natural Resources Fire Dashboard

-WDFW-

(* emphasis added *)

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Sep 17, 2021 11:06 am 
Tuesday September 14, 2021 16:39 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks public input on draft South Puget Sound Wildlife Area Management Plan


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is soliciting public input on a draft management plan for the South Puget Sound Wildlife Area https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/south-puget-sound-wildlife-area , which encompasses 5,790 acres spread across Mason, Kitsap, Pierce, and Thurston counties in eight units.

“This plan will guide our management and budgeting decisions for the wildlife area, which provides important habitat for fish and wildlife as well as recreation opportunities for people,” said Lauri Vigue, environmental planner for WDFW. “We greatly appreciate and value input from neighbors, partners, and wildlife area visitors. Public feedback helps us develop a more relevant and achievable plan to make the South Puget Sound Wildlife Area better for wildlife and the community.”

The draft management plan is undergoing a 30-day State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) public comment period and is available on WDFW’s website under “Management Planning” at https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/south-puget-sound-wildlife-area.

People can provide feedback on the draft plan by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14 on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments, by email (SEPADesk2@dfw.wa.gov), or by mail to Lisa Wood, SEPA/NEPA Coordinator, WDFW Habitat Program, Protection Division, P.O. Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504.

WDFW will host an online public meeting https://teams.microsoft.com/dl/launcher/launcher.html to review the draft plan on Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. using Microsoft Teams. People can also call in for audio only. Refer to the event on WDFW’s calendar https://wdfw.wa.gov/get-involved/calendar/event/online-public-meeting-south-puget-sound-wildlife-area-management-plan for more details.

Periodically, WDFW goes through a process to revise management plans for each of its 33 wildlife areas to document current conditions, address new Department initiatives, and identify new management priorities and actions. In between those major revisions, WDFW updates plans every couple of years to outline short-term objectives and accomplishments. The last plan update for the South Puget Sound Wildlife Area occurred in 2017.

Vigue said the draft management plan was developed with the help of the South Puget Sound Wildlife Area Advisory Committee https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/sps-waac , a diverse group of local partners and community members interested in conservation and outdoor recreation.

The South Puget Sound Wildlife Area supports many prairie, estuary, and wetland dependent species, as well as a variety of other wildlife and native fish populations, some of which are federally endangered. Each of the eight units provides habitat for many common species found throughout Western Washington, such as deer, elk, river otters, marine birds, marine mammals, shorebirds, waterfowl, and a variety of song birds.

The South Puget Sound Wildlife Area provides public access to the outdoors, including fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching opportunities, and offers unique facilities that serve diverse and growing human populations. The Nisqually Reach Nature Center http://nisquallyestuary.org/ partners with WDFW and operates a facility on the Nisqually Unit https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/nisqually-wildlife-area-unit that has offered education and outreach opportunities for more than 35 years. Another WDFW partner, The Salmon Center https://www.pnwsalmoncenter.org/ , offers similar outreach and education opportunities at the Union River Unit https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/wildlife-areas/union-river-wildlife-area-unit  located in Belfair.

All members of the public are invited to share their diverse perspectives and participate in WDFW public feedback opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, language proficiency, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, status as a veteran, or basis of disability.

Automated technology-based translation assistance is available through the Department’s web, virtual meeting, and online public feedback processes. To support equal access, staff are also available to arrange free and timely assistance when needed and notified. Learn more on the WDFW website, by calling 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or emailing Title6@dfw.wa.gov.

WDFW manages more than a million acres of land and hundreds of water access areas throughout the state. By actively managing lands, restoring habitats, and preserving wild places, the Department serves as stewards for Washington’s natural places, protecting the state’s land and water for its human and wildlife populations.

-WDFW-

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostMon Sep 20, 2021 1:40 pm 
Monday September 20, 2021 13:37 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Bat-killing fungus that causes white-nose syndrome continues to spread in Washington with recent detections in Chelan, Mason, and Yakima counties


OLYMPIA – An invasive fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, an often-fatal disease of hibernating bats, continues to spread in Washington. During spring and summer field work this year, scientists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), in partnership and with funding from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), detected the fungus or disease in at least three additional counties in the state.

“These recent confirmations of white-nose syndrome and the causative fungus in new areas of Washington are very concerning, as they provide evidence that the disease is spreading,” said Abby Tobin, white-nose syndrome coordinator for WDFW. “This eventually may lead to population declines in several bat species that are vulnerable to white-nose syndrome.”

White-nose syndrome is harmful to hibernating bats, but does not affect humans, livestock, or other wildlife. The disease is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which attacks the skin of hibernating bats and damages their delicate wings, making it difficult to fly. Infected bats often leave hibernation too early, which causes them to deplete their fat reserves and become dehydrated or starve to death.

Washington is home to 15 bat species that are important predators of night-flying insects. These bats benefit humans by eating tons of insects that can negatively affect forest health, commercial crops, and human health and well-being.

In March 2016, the first case of white-nose syndrome in the western U.S. was confirmed in a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) in King County. Since then, WDFW has confirmed over 100 cases of the disease in at least four bat species in the state. WDFW has confirmed white-nose syndrome in King, Chelan, Kittitas, and Pierce counties. In addition, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome has been detected in Lewis, Mason, Snohomish, and Yakima counties.

A map showing fungus and white-nose syndrome detections in Washington is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/bats.

Summary of 2021 white-nose syndrome or fungus detections

Chelan County: The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome was first detected in Chelan County in May 2020 from bat guano (feces). In April 2021, a local resident reported a dead bat to WDFW found near Malaga, WA. Biologists observed signs suggestive of white-nose syndrome infection when collecting the bat. With funding support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, additional testing at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center confirmed the bat had white-nose syndrome. The bat species was either a Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis) or little brown bat, two common bat species that are visually hard to tell apart.

Mason County: During routine bat monitoring work in summer 2021, WDFW scientists coordinated with USFS personnel to collect swab samples from a group of bats on USFS property and noticed a big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) with clinical signs suggestive of white-nose syndrome. WDFW sent samples to the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine for testing. While the laboratory test results were inconclusive, the observed clinical signs lead researchers to suspect the bat had white-nose syndrome.

Yakima County: In coordination with USFS personnel, WDFW scientists collected guano samples in late spring 2021 from a bat colony showing no obvious signs of disease on USFS property near Rimrock Lake. Testing at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center confirmed the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. The bat genus was Myotis, but the specific species is unknown.

How to help

WDFW urges people to not handle wild animals, especially if they appear sick or are found dead.

If you find sick/dead bats, groups of bats, or notice bats acting strangely, such as flying outside during the day in winter or spring, please report your sighting online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/bats or call WDFW at 360-902-2515.

Even though the fungus is primarily spread from bat-to-bat contact, humans can unintentionally spread it as well. People can carry fungal spores on clothing, shoes, or recreation equipment that touches the fungus.

To learn more about the disease and the national white-nose syndrome response, and to get the most updated decontamination protocols and other guidance documents, visit www.whitenosesyndrome.org.

For more information on Washington bats, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/living/species-facts/bats.

Monitoring the spread of white-nose syndrome

WDFW collaborates with partners, including the USFS, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington State Department of Health, wildlife rehabilitators, and others to collect samples from bats and the areas where they live around the state. This proactive surveillance work helps scientists detect the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome and track its spread.

WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

-WDFW-

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostMon Sep 20, 2021 6:20 pm 
Monday September 20, 2021 16:25 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW plans controlled burns, dependent on conditions, on Eastern Washington wildlife areas


SPOKANE- Annual prescribed fires on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lands in Eastern Washington are scheduled to start in October, as conditions allow. Prescribed fires, a WDFW forest management practice, on WDFW wildlife areas reduce the risk of future wildfires, reduce the severity of wildfires when they do happen, and improve habitat for wildlife.

With WDFW lands often located in critical mid-elevation locations close to communities, prescribed fire is particularly important to both protect wildlife habitat and public safety. It can be startling to see however.

“We understand that, coming out of such a severe fire season, seeing smoke or flames may raise attention, questions, and concerns for members of the public,” said WDFW prescribed fire manager Matt Eberlein. “Prescribed fires are monitored continuously until out, with public safety being a primary concern.”

Eberlein manages two prescribed fire teams that include five full-time foresters and 18 burn-team members. These teams conduct prescribed fires every spring and fall, as appropriate, on the one million acres of public lands that WDFW manages statewide.While the results of prescribed burning include increased public safety, a more fire resilient landscape, and an improved experience for those who use public lands, we understand these fires can be an inconvenience while they are underway, particularly during hunting seasons. Unfortunately, there is a small window of time when prescribed burns can be conducted when the weather is cool but not too wet.

“The areas slated for prescribed fire in Eastern Washington encompass portions of wildlife areas, leaving hundreds of thousands more acres available for public access,” said Eberlein. “In the long-term, the work will preserve ecosystems and enable people to continue using public lands.”

With funding from the state’s 2021-2023 Capital Budget and grants, WDFW is planning to treat approximately 700 acres of Eastern Washington wildlife areas with prescribed fire by the end of 2021. Fires in the following areas will begin in October:

Colockum Wildlife Area, Lilly Lake, 250 acres in Chelan County, 15 miles southeast of Wenatchee
Methow Wildlife Area, Ramsey Creek, 248 acres in Okanogan County, 10 miles northeast of Winthrop
Oak Creek Wildlife Area, Cougar Canyon, 120 acres in Yakima County, 10 miles west of Naches
Oak Creek Wildlife Area, Oak Creek drainage, 90 acres in Yakima County, 15 miles west of Naches
Due to changing weather conditions, some of the burns may not occur. Additional burns on WDFW-managed eastern Washington lands could be announced if conditions allow. Signs are posted in advance of all prescribed fires to inform recreationists, but smoke and visibility can still be an issue.

“We work to minimize smoke but please watch for fire personnel or equipment and slow down if you experience reduced visibility while driving,” Eberlein said.

-WDFW-

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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