SPOTLIGHT ON WDFW LANDS – JUNE 2021

Get to know your public lands this month

Pair of WDFW wildlife areas have something for everyone

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages more than 1 million acres of publicly owned land and over 500 water access areas across the state, and with June bringing us into summer, we’re highlighting a pair of these great locations and what they offer.

WDFW manages 33 wildlife areas to help fish and wildlife thrive in healthy habitats where people can experience our state’s natural gifts. Many of these areas offer public access and serve as key parts of the department’s conservation efforts. Below we’ll detail two of these wildlife areas, one in Eastern Washington and the other on the west side.

In addition to aiding wildlife and their habitat, these lands are also part of an effort to preserve Washington’s natural and cultural heritage; provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation; and foster outdoor experiences and exploration. Read on to get to know your lands and see what a visit can offer you.

Close to one half of the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area’s acreage is shrubsteppe and grassland, seen here in the area’s Byron Unit. (Alan L. Bauer)

Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area

The Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area covers approximately 21,400 acres across 15 units in Franklin, Benton, and Yakima counties.

Land acquisition started in the late 1940s to protect and enhance habitat and provide public recreation. Some of the lands also help meet mitigation goals for Bonneville Power Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction projects to address habitat losses for a variety of wildlife species. Some of the management units are owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation but are managed as part of the wildlife area.

Close to one half of the acreage is shrubsteppe and grassland while open water, cultivated cropland, and woodland mainly covers the rest. There are nine water access areas scattered across the wildlife area, with most along the Yakima River.

The wildlife area is popular for wildlife recreation, especially fishing, hunting, and bird-watching, with hiking and bird-watching being among the top activities in June.

A northern harrier swoops around the walls of Esquatzel Coulee in the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area. (Alan L. Bauer)

‘The wildlife area provides river shoreline access, hunting access, pheasant release sites, a boat launch on Mesa Lake, and the Rattlesnake Mountain Shooting Facility.’

In other months, popular activities include fishing for salmon, trout, and warmwater species, as well as deer, elk, waterfowl, and upland game bird hunting.

The wildlife area provides river shoreline access, hunting access, pheasant release sites, a boat launch on Mesa Lake, and the Rattlesnake Mountain Shooting Facility.

For detailed information on the wildlife area’s individual units and what they offer, click the links at WDFW’s Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area information page.

Also, be sure to check out the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area story map to learn more about the opportunities and benefits WDFW land management facilitates for the public, wildlife, and habitats.

The WDFW Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area information page also contains the wildlife area’s management plan, which guides all management activities, including conservation and recreation, occurring on the wildlife area for 10 years.

A ground squirrel scans its surroundings in the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area’s Byron Unit. (Alan L. Bauer)

Scatter Creek Wildlife Area

The Scatter Creek Wildlife Area contains roughly 3,630 acres in Thurston and Grays Harbor counties. Most of its six units are located on tributaries that flow into the Chehalis River and contain portions of unique South Sound prairies.

The wildlife area is located in the Puget Sound Trough lowlands with the Cascade Mountains to the east, the Willapa Hills to the southwest, and the Black Hills to the northwest. It lies on a glacial outwash plain rimmed by low-lying hills formed by the last continental ice sheet 12,000 years ago.

The units support many aquatic, forested, prairie, and wetland-dependent wildlife species, some of which are federally threatened or endangered. Each unit also provides vital habitat for many common species found throughout Western Washington.

In addition, units are managed either for fish and wildlife recreation or for the protection of specific species and their habitats. The department acquired the wildlife area properties through support of state and federal funding sources, as well as by donation.

Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies are seen in the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area. (Jason Wettstein/WDFW)

‘In June, wildlife viewing and hiking are among the area’s top activities. At other times of the year, bird-watching, fishing (including for salmon and steelhead), and hunting for waterfowl, upland game birds, deer, and elk are all popular activities.’

Check out WDFW’s Forest Health Story Map to find out about forest health work happening in the wildlife area.

In June, wildlife viewing and hiking are among the area’s top activities. At other times of the year, bird-watching, fishing (including for salmon and steelhead), and hunting for waterfowl, upland game birds, deer, and elk are all popular activities.

The wildlife area also includes the geological curiosity known as the Mima Mounds, Chehalis River access, specially permitted events for dog field trials and training, and botanical studies.

For detailed information on the wildlife area’s individual units, click the links at WDFW’s Scatter Creek Wildlife Area information page. This webpage also hosts the wildlife area’s management plan.

Experience your public lands

We welcome you to explore your fish and wildlife lands and waters, learn about our stewardship efforts, get engaged in planning and stewarding with us, and make memories at these magnificent places.

To learn more about the lands WDFW manages, including the rest of our wildlife areas, visit our WDFW lands webpage.