MDF Water guzzler

September 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Conservation

WA Guzzler – FINAL

By Kari Dingman––Assistant Wildlife Area Manager with Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area Guzzler

The mule deer that call the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington home, are a popular big game species with both hunters and wildlife viewers alike. While the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has spent considerable time and money in habitat restoration to increase mule deer numbers, MDF chapters have proven to also be an important avenue of support and funding for the projects that benefit these mule deer.

before_installationBefore guzzler

The W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area (WLA) consists of 16,000 acres located south of Pomeroy, Washington. The WLA ranges from an elevation of 2,000 feet in the river bottom to 4,300 feet on the highest ridges. Steep, rocky slopes characterize the terrain, with mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, bighorn sheep, black bear, mountain lion, coyote, bobcat, forest grouse, Hungarian partridge, and pheasants all calling this special place home. In addition, the Tucannon River, which runs through the middle of the WLA, houses chinook, steelhead, and bull trout.

after_installation-1After guzzler

A majority of the WLA was covered with coniferous forest until the School Fire in 2005 and the Columbia Complex Fire in 2006 burned the entire WLA. The WLA was logged for salvage timber and to remove standing debris in 2007 and replanted with nursery-grown seedlings in the Spring of 2008. The WLA is now very open with stands of conifers in areas that were not heavily burned. The understory vegetation has now come back and is doing well since the fires.

guzzler_and_trough-1Water guzzler installed

However, with few or no water sources on the ridge-tops of the WLA, the MDF partnered with Safari Club International (SCI) to purchase a 750-gallon wildlife guzzler (water retaining structure) and WDFW contributed the manpower and equipment to install the guzzler. The guzzler was installed on the ridge overlooking the Hartsock Unit of the WLA in April 2009.

muley_herd_on_way_to_guzzlerMule deer heading to guzzler

The installation of the guzzler provided water in an area that was previously devoid of any, and the chosen guzzler location is now receiving a great deal of use by mule deer traveling between forage and shelter. The guzzler will convert the area to a more useable habitat for mule deer as well as the other wildlife species in the area. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to thank the Mule Deer Foundation and all of its members, staff, and volunteers for their past support and assistance. We look forward to working with this great organization in the future.

MDF Spot Light, Weed Control

July 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Conservation


Mule Deer Foundation Chapter Spotlight

Southwest Montana (Belgrade/Bozeman) Chapter Project – FINAL

By Tracy Watt

Intensive, long-term, integrated management is necessary to reduce noxious weed infestations. Ron Carlstrom, Agricultural Agent for the Gallatin County Extension Service, knows this as well as anyone and for the past couple of years, Carlstrom has been working with a group of private land owners who control about 115,000 acres in southwest Montana. The Extension Service wrote and submitted Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grants and obtained monies to treat weed-infested areas on the privately held acreage. The Trust Fund is administered through the Montana Department of Agriculture and provides weed control cost-share dollars for private lands. The funds were used to aerial spray for noxious weeds.spraying weeds

Spraying for noxiuos weeds

Much of the private property, however, lies adjacent to or in the vicinity of Montana’s first state park, Lewis and Clark Caverns. The park spans some 3,000 acres and is located on the  HYPERLINK “” Jefferson River, between the towns of Three Forks and Whitehall. There is no livestock grazing plan in the park, nor do any license fees go toward park maintenance. Therefore, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have been treating for weeds on a very limited basis, with access to about $4,000 per year from their operating budget. They utilize very limited in-house and contracted spraying techniques for weed control, with no ability to treat outlying areas. It became obvious to Carlstrom that if noxious weed management was to be successful on the private lands, something needed to be done for the park, as well.Helicopter on water tender - How they fill water and chemical

Reloading the helicopter with spray!

Mule deer are the largest wildlife population in the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, and the area is vital mule deer territory in a part of Montana where good habitat is scarce. Host to rough mountain terrain and sagebrush flats, cedar groves and hardwood draws, blue ribbon trout streams and rushing rivers, and with minimal winter snowfall, the park offers excellent winter range for mule deer. With this in mind, Carlstrom contacted David Rickett, MDF chair for the Belgrade/Bozeman area, who happened to have some Chapter Rewards dollars burning a hole in his pocket. Rickett shared the project idea with his chapter, and the committee members agreed it would be a worthwhile endeavor.

They say luck is when preparedness meets opportunity, and such was the case when Carlstrom and Rickett approached the park manager. With the EA having already been passed through the public process, all systems were a go. In June 2008, MDF’s Southwest Montana Chapter put $7,400 towards the eradication of weeds on 160 acres of this rough and remote mountainous terrain. Noxious weeds were targeted with aerial spraying using a helicopter and the herbicide Transline. Care was taken to not harm the sensitive area, which includes ponderosa pine, cottonwood, hardwood, alder, juniper and mountain mahogany, by using a more expensive chemical that lingers in the soil for a shorter amount of time than other, more harsh treatments.Leafy Spurge Spreading Downhill-1

Leafy spurge spreading down hill.

MDF’s Rickett is calling the summer effort “Phase One.” Phase Two will consist of MDF volunteers, and others, hand spraying weeds in accessible areas of the park, along roads, and in the camp grounds. The Southwest Montana Chapter hopes to invest $3,000 per year for the next five to seven years to help eliminate the threat of invasive weeds on this vital mule deer habitat.


March 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Conservation

Mule Deer Conservation coming here soon…