Sinlahekin Ecosystem Restoration Phase 3

Category Overview

The State Lands Restoration and Enhancement category provides funding to two state agencies to help repair damaged plant and animal habitat. These grants focus on resource preservation and protection of public lands. Projects in this category help bring important natural areas and resources back to their original functions by improving the self sustaining and ecological functionality of sites.

Project Highlights

At the completion of Phase 3, a total of 179 acres of mostly high-density ponderosa pine (some Douglas fir) was commercially harvested. In areas where machinery disturbed the substrate, crews followed the operation in the fall with broadcast seeding of native bunchgrass. Grass seed used in these areas was collected from local populations and grown out in the Columbia Basin. We have found that seeding during the late fall or early winter followed by a spring herbicide application to reduce competition from invasive species such as Common St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Bladder Senna (Colutea spp.), and Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) among others has produced the most successful establishment of these native plants. Herbicide treatments for noxious weeds on the 652 burned or harvested project area acres will be continued annually as needed to ensure successful long-term establishment of native forb and grass species. Seeding will also continue in the fall of 2019 on some of the sites that were treated with prescribed fire in the spring of 2019. The collection and subsequent growing out of the seed were part of Phase 1 of this restoration effort – Project #09-1399. The timber coming off the project site was sold to mills in Oroville, Kettle Falls, and Colville thereby aiding the local economy. Any income from the sale of timber was then rolled back into the project. In addition to commercially harvesting these stands, approximately 80 acres of overstocked ponderosa pine savanna were thinned by hand in areas where the topography was challenging and access was difficult or impossible for heavy equipment. Utilizing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) prescribed burn team, crews hiked into these remote locations and typically hand-felled <10” DBH trees using chainsaws. The trees were then ‘bucked’ up and the material was scattered evenly throughout the unit to ensure a more consistent fuel bed prior to burning. Following fuels reduction (i.e. harvest and thinning), crews began to prepare the area for broadcast prescribed burning. Through the collaboration of the prescribed burn manager, the wildlife area manager, and the Department of Natural Resources, a prescribed burn plan was drafted and approved, followed by the procurement of a burn permit and approval to release smoke into the airshed. The aforementioned WDFW prescribed burn crew, hired specifically for implementing these burns, dug hand lines, setup pumps and sprinkler systems, and prepared the units for ignition. In total, 652 acres were burned by the completion of this project. In addition to the on-the-ground work accomplished, various other projects and tasks were completed in order to achieve the goals of the larger project and to compile data to inform future efforts. These activities included the following: Cultural Resources Survey – A cultural resources survey was completed in 2011 by Central Washington University. The survey consisted of a pedestrian survey and an inventory of the project area, which resulted in the documentation of 24 previously unidentified archaeological sites and isolates. The majority of these were newly recorded sites and isolates of historic land use, along with some pre-contact land use documented. Adverse impacts on cultural resources were avoided in the project area as a direct result of their identification though this survey and inventory.

Quick Facts

WWRP Applicant: Fish & Wildlife Dept of Category: State Lands Restoration & Enhancement WWRP Grant: $531,749.63 Applicant Match: $0.00 Project Type: Restoration County: Okanogan Legislative District: 7 Status: Closed Completed RCO Project # 14-1508

Location Details

From Riverside north on SR 97 to about Mile Post 304.6. Turn left (west) on the South Pine Creek Road. Proceed west about 7 miles where road enters SWA, where in 0.1 miles you enter the worksite. Proceed west about 1/2 mile on Fish Lake Road to the intersection of Sinlahekin Road - the area on the east side of the road from this point north to about 3/4 and a mile north on Sinlahekin Rd toward Conconully to the boundary is within the worksite. From Tonasket west on 4th Ave across Okanogan River to the Hwy 7 Junction. Turn right (north) on Hwy 7 and proceed north to the Loomis Hwy Junction continuing on (west) to Loomis. Drive through Loomis and proceed straight (west) into a sweeping left turn onto Sinlahekin Road. Proceed south on Sinlahekin Road about 10 miles to the north end of Fish Lake; to the intersection of Sinlahekin Road - the area on the east side of the road from this point north 1 mile on Fish Lake Rd and 3/4 and a mile north on Sinlahekin Rd toward Conconully to the boundary is within the worksite.

What is the WWRP

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is a state grant program that creates and conserves local and state parks, wildlife habitat and working farms. The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office administers WWRP grants, and the legislature funds the program.