Brochure of Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Idaho. Published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).
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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge provides a watery oasis for resident and migratory wildlife, including spectacular concentrations of waterfowl. About the Refuge Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge has two units, Lake Lowell and the Snake River Islands. The Lake Lowell Unit encompasses 10,619 acres, including the almost 9,000-acre Lake Lowell and surrounding lands. The Snake River Islands Unit contains about 1,200 acres on 104 islands. These islands are distributed along 113 river miles, from the Canyon-Ada County Line in Idaho to Farewell Bend in Oregon. Diverse Habitats The Refuge provides a mix of wildlife habitats, from the open waters and wetland edges of Lake Lowell to the sagebrush uplands around the lake and the grasslands and riparian forests on the Snake River islands. The variety of habitats makes Deer Flat NWR an important breeding area for resident and migratory birds and other wildlife. The Refuge is also a significant resting and wintering area for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway, including spectacular concentrations of mallards and Canada geese. A System of Refuges Snow and Ross’s geese USFWS 2 Deer Flat NWR is one of the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, which now includes over 560 refuges. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the System preserves a network of lands and waters set aside for the conservation and management of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and plant resources for the benefit of present and future generations. This blue goose, designed by J.N. “Ding” Darling, has become the symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge System. 3 A Brief History Early Settlers F.C. Horn/Bureau of Reclamation Creating Lake Lowell Before settlement, the land that would become Deer Flat NWR was a low-lying area with many springs. In winter, herds of deer and elk came from the mountains to eat the abundant grasses. Early settlers observing these herds dubbed the area Deer Flat. The reservoir was completed in 1908 at a cost of $2,500,000. Unfortunately, local landowners greeted it with outrage rather than cheers because most of the water first used to fill the reservoir either evaporated or leaked out. Fortunately, the reservoir soon began to hold water. Needing water to irrigate crops, settlers initially restricted their settlements to land near rivers. In the early 1900s, they began lobbying and raising money for a reservoir. The Bureau of Reclamation began work on the Deer Flat Reservoir in 1906. In 1945, Deer Flat Reservoir was renamed Lake Lowell in honor of James H. Lowell, who had spearheaded efforts to establish the reservoir in his position as president of the local water users’ association. Lake Lowell is now one of the largest off-stream reservoirs in the American West, with the capacity to irrigate over 200,000 acres of land. Between 1906 and 1908, two large and two small earthen embankments, or dams, were built to contain the reservoir. The Upper Dam was constructed using a smallgauge train to haul, dump, and compact the material. Horse teams were used on the Lower Dam. Workers also constructed a diversion dam on the Boise River and enlarged the New York Canal, which brings water from the Boise River to the reservoir. Establishment of the Refuge Left: Deer Flat steam shovel Below: Horse teams compacting the dam F.C. Horn/Bureau of Reclamation 4 With the reservoir completed, President Theodore Roosevelt realized that a nearly 9,000-acre lake in an arid region would be an oasis for wildlife, so he created Deer Flat NWR in 1909, just three days after water started flowing into the reservoir through the New York Canal. The Refuge remained unstaffed until 1937, when 36 islands in the Snake River were added to protect a riparian corridor for wildlife. Through land purchases, donations, and other land-acquisition methods, the Refuge eventually expanded to about 11,800 acres. 5 Seasons of Wildlife A Brief History continued Spring Bureau of Reclamation In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established at the Lower Dam and grew to over 100 corpsmen, who spent many years quarrying lava rock to face Civilian both dams. Crews from the Works Conservation Progress Administration also worked Corps crew working on Refuge projects. Some created on parapet wall nesting islands in the eastern portion of the lake, while others would “line up shoulder to shoulder and walk around the lake pulling or digging up…undesirable plants.” Both of these programs ended with the start of World War II. Refuge Visitor Center built by the Job Corps In the early 1970s, Job Corps students from the nearby center in Marsing, Idaho constructed many of the current Refuge facilities, including the Visitor Center, shop, a residence, and facilities at the Lower Dam Recreation Area. Resident Canada geese set up nesting territories on the Snake River islands in early March, and goslings hatch by mid-April. At the same time, large numbers of white-fronted geese gather on the Snake River below Homedale and Weiser for up to a month before continuing their northward migration. © Dan & Lin Dzurisin Work Crews Canada goose goslings Bald eagles, osprey, and great horned owls nest on both units of the Refuge, with most feeding nestlings by the end of April. Nesting great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and double-crested cormorants get a slightly later start. They nest in large rookeries on some of the Snake River islands in April, May, and June. Great horned owl USFWS © Matt Knoth 6 7 Seasons of Wildlife continued © Linda Tanner Dancing western grebes Fall In early summer, western and Clark’s grebes can be seen dancing on Lake Lowell in search of a mate, while nesting bald eagles look for food for their young. Visitors can see large numbers of white pelicans on the lake and large broods of Canada geese on pastures and fields adjacent to the Snake River. By late July and early August, mallards and wood ducks begin to congregate on the lake, looking for food in flooded vegetation. As summer progresses and the lake is slowly drawn down for irrigation, large numbers of shorebirds come to feed on the exposed mudflats. Look for dowitchers, sandpipers, godwits, yellowlegs, and plovers. Spotted sandpiper As fall approaches, the number of birds using the Refuge increases. The large exposed mudflats continue drawing vast numbers of shorebirds. Resident flocks of ducks and Canada geese are usually on Lake Lowell by the second week of October. As cold weather drives migrating ducks and geese south, migratory birds join the resident birds at the lake. Some birds pass through, while others spend the winter. By midNovember, the goose population peaks. © Teddy Llovet Summer Canada geese © Ingrid Taylar © Mike Shipman White pelican Flocking geese, ducks, and gulls at Lake Lowell 8 USFWS 9 Managing Habitats Seasons of Wildlife continued © Enrico Mevius Mallard Lake Lowell habitats Wetland Habitats Yellow-headed blackbird © Mark Winchester Addison Mohler/USFWS Canada geese in local croplands Duck populations peak in midDecember. Geese and ducks roost on the lake at night, their activity usually keeping patches of water open all winter. At dawn, they depart in large flocks to feed in the surrounding area. Visitors can see these flights of ducks and geese at dawn or dusk, or view the large flocks of geese that feed on nearby fields during the day. Bald eagles, which move into the area to feed on weak and injured birds, can often be seen around the lake. 10 Bald eagle © Mark Winchester Western grebes in smartweed During spring and summer, water is released from Lake Lowell to irrigate surrounding farm fields. This slow draw-down of the lake exposes mudflats that provide abundant habitat for shorebirds. The lake also produces a bumper crop of aquatic vegetation for birds to feed on, particularly smartweed. In fall, smartweed seeds provide a feast for migratory ducks heading south. The Refuge also has marsh areas where the water is manipulated to provide feeding, nesting, and resting habitat for mallards, sora rails, yellow-headed blackbirds, and other wildlife. Addison Mohler/USFWS The Snake River also provides a winter home for a variety of waterfowl, including goldeneyes, scaup, mergansers, buffleheads, wood ducks, green-winged teals, and a large number of mallards. Wildlife needs a variety of habitats for food, shelter, and raising young. Deer Flat NWR is managed to improve and maintain habitat for wildlife. © Lauren Giebler Winter 11 Managing Habitats continued © Trish Gussler Screech owl in a cavity nest Snake River Islands Uplands Riparian areas near the lake, as well as many of the Refuge islands, contain primarily cottonwood, peachleaf willow, and coyote willow. These areas provide food, nesting sites, and cover from predators for a variety of tree-dependent species. Of the 320 species of Idaho birds, nearly one-third nest in cavities in hollow trees. The 104 islands of the Snake River Islands Unit provide a variety of habitats, including areas dominated by grasses, sagebrush, and trees such as maples, box elders, and cottonwoods. These islands provide ideal nesting habitat for Canada geese, ducks, herons, gulls, cormorants, and various songbirds. To protect nesting birds, the islands are closed to all public entry from February 1 to June 14 for most islands, or June 30 for several heron and gull-nesting islands. Mule deer in sagebrush upland Sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and the bunchgrass Great Basin wild rye dominate the uplands near the lake and on the islands. Large blocks of this native habitat can be visited just west of the Visitor Center and on several of the larger Refuge islands. Addison Mohler/USFWS Riparian Forests Rabbits, gophers, mule deer, and even grasshoppers feed on upland plants and rely on them for nesting sites and cover. Predators such as badgers, foxes, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, or American kestrels may later eat these animals. Badger at a burrow © Mark Winchester © Mike Shipman Herons in rookery 12 13 Wildlife Viewing Tips Western meadowlark How to See Wildlife The Refuge is open all year during daylight hours. Wildlife is generally most active in the mornings and early evenings. Mule deer If driving, your car is an excellent observation and photographic blind. Stay in your car to have better viewing opportunities. If walking, move slowly and quietly to avoid scaring wildlife. The best season for viewing a wide variety of wildlife is from September through December. Addison Mohler/USFWS When to Visit With over 250 bird species and 30 mammal species on the Refuge, the patient observer or photographer has many excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. © Dan & Lin Dzurisin Use binoculars or a spotting scope to view animals up close without disturbing them. Where to Go Look closely at your surroundings for tracks, chewed leaves or branches, and any other evidence that animals have been there before you. Some areas of the Refuge are closed to protect wildlife, so watch for signs and check the map. Learn more about wildlife. A Refuge bird list is available at the Visitor Center. In addition, a good field guide can help you identify the species you see. For an auto tour, drive the 29.5-mile bird tour around Lake Lowell or the 47-mile bird tour that includes the Snake River. Both tours start and end at the east end of the Upper Dam. Written guides for these tours are available at the Visitor Center or on the refuge web site. 14 Those who prefer to walk can visit the short, self-guided Nature Trail at the Visitor Center. For a longer hike, there are several miles of trails that begin near the Visitor Center, near Gotts Point, and at the end of Tio Lane. Please be considerate. Do not approach other wildlife watchers or wildlife too closely. Do not pick up wildlife. While you may think that a young animal has been abandoned, more than likely it has a parent watching anxiously nearby. Gull nesting colony on refuge island USFWS Pets will scare wildlife before you get a chance to see it. Consider leaving pets at home. 15 Enjoying the Refuge The Refuge is open to the public all year during daylight hours only. Please help protect wildlife and their habitats by obeying all regulations. Some areas are closed to public use to protect wildlife, so please observe signs. Access is allowed through designated accesses only. Visitor Center The Visitor Center provides an observation room overlooking Lake Lowell, interpretive panels about the wildlife and history of the refuge, and a kid’s activity area. The Visitor Center is open weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, except on Federal holidays. Organized groups can be accommodated at other times by making special arrangements with Refuge staff. Environmental Education Refuge facilities are available to teachers and other educators to help promote an understanding of wildlife and the natural environment. Refuge staff can provide short presentations to visiting groups or assist teachers before or after Refuge visits. Call the Refuge office to schedule an educational program or to discuss facility availability. Disabled Visitors An accessible fishing dock is available on the west end of the Upper Dam. The Centennial Trail is an accessible interpretive trail from the Visitor Center to and across the Upper Dam. Access difficulty elsewhere varies. Disabled visitors should consult the Refuge office for suggestions about visiting the area safely. Snake River Islands All Refuge islands are closed to all entry from February 1 to June 14 to protect nesting wildlife. Several heron and gull-nesting islands are closed to all entry from February 1 to June 30. Signs indicate seasonal island closure dates. Vehicle Travel All motorized vehicles, including all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs), are restricted to county roads. Park only in designated parking areas. Snow geese flying over refuge Visitor Center 16 Addison Mohler/USFWS 17 Enjoying the Refuge continued Hiking E Hiking the Gotts Point Trail Some areas, marked by signs or buoys, are permanently or seasonally closed to protect wildlife nesting and foraging habitat. Boaters may not anchor on or pull onto permanently or seasonally closed lands. Hiking is allowed seasonally off of designated trails as follows: East Side and South Side Recreation Areas, all year; Gotts Point, 2/1-9/30; Murphy’s Neck, 3/15-9/30; North Side Recreation Areas, 8/1-1/31. Refuge management encourages the use of CARB star-rated motors at the level of two stars and above to minimize negative impacts to water quality. © Mike Shipman Fishing Lake Lowell N Between April 15 and September 30, motorized and non-motorized boats may be used. Airboats and air-thrust boats are prohibited. Boat-launching facilities are located at the Lower Dam Recreation Area, the east and west ends of the Upper Dam, Access No. 1, and Access No. 7. All launching facilities are subject to closure due to low water levels. Between October 1 and April 14, human-powered boats and float tubes may be used, but only in the areas 200 yards in front of the Upper and Lower Dams. Boat ramps are blocked during this time. Boating is permitted during daylight hours only. Please observe all No Wake Zones. Some are indicated by buoys; however, the No Wake Zone along the south shore is not marked by buoys. It is a 200-yard buffer measured from the edge of the shoreline or the vegetation, whichever is closer to the center of the lake. 18 © Mike Shipman Boating Kiteboarders and windsurfers may launch from any open shoreline, but must comply with all No Wake Zones. 19 Enjoying the Refuge continued Swimming P Organized Group Activities Swimming and other water play is allowed from April 15 to September 30. Swimmers are encouraged to use designated swimming beaches at the East Upper Dam boat launch and at the Lower Dam Recreation Area. No lifeguards are present. Swimming and other water play is not allowed around fishing facilities or immediately adjacent to boat launches. Limited organized group activities are allowed, but only at the Lower Dam Recreation Area. For event requirements, contact the Refuge. Jogging Jogging is allowed in the Lower Dam Recreation Area and on trails and roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas. Groups of more than ten joggers require a Special Use Permit. Competitive events are prohibited. Biking and Horseback Riding Biking and horseback riding are allowed on designated multiuse trails and maintained roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas. Groups of more than ten bicyclists or horses and riders require a Special Use Permit. Competitive events are prohibited. CA Pets Pets are allowed on designated multiuse trails, on maintained roads, and in the Lower Dam Recreation Area as long as they are on a physical leash (6 feet long or less) at all times. Pet waste must be promptly removed. Hunting dogs may be off leash while actively hunting, but they must remain under strict voice control. Weapons Target shooting is prohibited at all times. The use or possession of air guns, spears, gigs, paint-ball weapons, or other non-firearm weapons is prohibited. Prohibited Activities Glass containers, open fires, fireworks, camping, overnight parking, driving a motorized vehicle off of roads, using radio-controlled vehicles and vessels, using unmanned aerial vehicles,using metal detectors, gathering wood, dog training, and collecting plants, animals, rocks, or other specimens are prohibited. Area Services Food, gasoline, campgrounds and motels are available in nearby communities. c Horseback riding on the Observation Hill Trail Susan Kain/USFWS 20 21 Hunting & Fishing Hunting Regulations E Lake Lowell Unit Hunting All waterfowl, coot, upland game, and mourning dove hunters on the refuge are required to use non-toxic shot and may not possess lead shot in the field. Hunting dogs must remain under strict voice control at all times. Dog training is not allowed. Target shooting is prohibited. Contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for current hunting regulations. Hunters may enter the Refuge one hour before legal shooting hours and remain on the Refuge until one hour after legal shooting hours. Although use of permanent blinds is prohibited, portable blinds are allowed if they are removed at the end of each day. Temporary blinds may be constructed from natural vegetation less than 3 inches in diameter and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Duck hunting at Lake Lowell Todd Fenzl/USFWS 22 Duck and coot hunting is limited to 200 yards from the shoreline within hunting areas. Hunting in the East Side Recreation Area is walk-in only; no float tubes or boats are allowed. Duck and coot hunters in the South Side Recreation Area may use float tubes, nonmotorized boats, and boats with electric motors only. The use or possession of gas-powered motors is prohibited. USFWS No trapping is allowed on the Refuge. Trapping is allowed on State land, which is below the ordinary high water line adjacent to the Snake River Islands Unit. Canada geese Hunting on the Lake Lowell Unit is limited to the East Side and South Side Recreation Areas. Only pheasant, quail, partridge, mourning doves, ducks, coots, and deer may be hunted. State seasons apply. Duck and coot hunters are limited to the use or possession of 25 shells per day per hunter. The deer hunt is a controlled hunt; check specific State and Refuge regulations. Goose hunting is prohibited throughout the Lake Lowell Unit. Snake River Islands Unit Hunting Hunting of waterfowl, coots, upland game, mourning doves, and deer is allowed on all islands of the Snake River Islands Unit from September 1 to January 31 in accordance with State regulations. Where the Snake River is the boundary between Idaho and Oregon, hunters from either state may hunt the islands according to the regulations of the State for which they are licensed. Lead buckshot is prohibited for hunting deer on the Snake River Islands Unit. 23 Refuge Signs Hunting and Fishing continued Fishing R Lake Lowell Unit Fishing Snake River Islands Unit Fishing Game fish in the lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, bluegill, rainbow trout, channel catfish, and brown bullhead. Contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for current fishing regulations. Shoreline fishing is allowed all year. Wading access to fishing is allowed March 15 to September 30. However, some areas of the Refuge are permanently or seasonally closed to protect wildlife; please watch for signs and check the map. Ice fishing is allowed in Fishing Areas A and B, within 200 yards of the dams, unless otherwise posted by the Bureau of Reclamation. Fishing from the shore of the Snake River Islands is prohibited during nesting season. All islands are closed from February 1 to June 14. The nesting closure extends through June 30 on a few heron and gull-nesting islands. Watch for signs. Refuge signs inform visitors of permitted or restricted activities. Please help protect wildlife and their habitats by respecting these signs. NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE This sign marks the Refuge boundary. UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY PROHIBITED U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AREA BEYOND THIS SIGN CLOSED Areas designated by this sign are closed to all entry year round to protect wildlife. All public entry prohibited WILDLIFE WINTERING AREA U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Department of the Interior Areas designated by this or similar signs are closed to all entry between the designated dates to protect wildlife. Entry Prohibited October 1 – January 31 WATERFOWL NESTING ISLANDS U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Department of the Interior Entry Prohibited February 1 — June 14 PUBLIC HUNTING AREA Limited public fishing under Federal and State laws. Consult Manager for current regulations. STEEL SHOT ZONE Special Regulations In Effect–Consult Manager Refuge islands are closed to all entry between the designated dates to protect nesting waterfowl and other birds. Areas designated by this sign may be hunted as permitted by refuge regulations. See the Hunting and Fishing section of this brochure for more information. Target shooting is prohibited throughout the Refuge. All migratory bird and upland game hunters on the Refuge are required to use non-toxic shot and may not possess lead shot in the field. Recreational fishing © Janice Engle 24 25 Refuge Manager Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge 13751 Upper Embankment Road Nampa, Idaho 83686 Phone 208/467 9278 Fax 208/467 1019 http://www.fws.gov/deerflat For Refuge information 1 800/344 WILD U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov June 2016 Cover photo: Black-necked stilt © Mark Winchester