Ducks Unlimited and several partners recently completed work benefiting 239 acres of a popular Washington duck hunting area just in time for duck season. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Winchester Regulated Access Area is a part of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area’s Desert Unit and had been suffering from reduced water supply due to sediment and vegetation, prohibiting it from receiving its normal amount of water and leading to a decline in waterfowl visiting the site.
DU provided technical support and project management in the creation of new water delivery swales to restore water connectivity from the Winchester Wasteway to the Regulated Access Area, which is one of the most popular hunting sites in the state, immediately improving habitat and hunting opportunities for 2018.
Wetlands within the WDFW Columbia Basin Wildlife Area (CBWA) provide critical habitat for waterfowl and other wetland obligate species, functioning primarily as wintering and migration staging areas for a variety of waterfowl species. Annual surveys in November average 50,000 ducks and geese in just the Desert Unit, one of the CBWA’s multiple units. Some water bodies host one to ten thousand waterfowl each during winter, and many birds, including mallard, wood duck, and teal, use these properties for nesting and brood rearing.
These properties also offer quality hunting opportunities and recreation, while providing protected areas for wildlife. Grant County, where the CBWA resides, has the highest harvest of ducks and geese among all counties in Washington state, owing to the abundance of waterfowl during hunting season.
The Columbia Basin Wildlife Area’s wetland cells were originally created after the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project was developed in the 1940s.