New IBA Protects Shrub-steppe Grouse Habitat
An area of prime Greater Sage-Grouse habitat west of Spokane is the newest Audubon-designated Important Bird Area in Washington.
The Lake Creek Important Bird Area (IBA) is a biodiversity corridor following one of the largest remaining patches of shrub-steppe and associated riparian habitat in a region known as the Channeled Scablands of eastern Washington, reports Christi Norman, Birding Trail Program Director for Audubon Washington.
The area has potholes and rim rock lakes, and Lake Creek is an intermittent stream, according to the Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW). The terrain is characterized by plateaus, buttes, and channels.
Collaborating for the Good of Grouse
Management by a combination of agencies is improving wetland habitat in the Lake Creek area that serves as a stopover for shorebirds and water birds migrating on the Pacific Flyway.
The Bureau of Land Management provides public recreation areas, and WDFW manages the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area for the benefit of Sharp-tailed Grouse and other shrub-steppe obligate species.
Lake Creek is recognized as a Greater Sage-grouse habitat concentration area. A five-year partnership between the agencies and Spokane Audubon contributed to increased grouse populations there.
Kim Thorburn, Spokane Audubon president, was selected by the WDFW as its 2010 Volunteer of the Year for her leadership and dedication to grouse and their habitat.
If You Go
You can find the Lake Creek IBA on the Great Washington State Birding Trail Palouse to Pines Loop map as Site #26, Swanson Lakes, and Site #27, Telford.
Also see: Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area details and directions (WDFW)
Important Bird Areas (Audubon Washington)
Photo: Greater Sage-Grouse, by Stephen Ting (USFWS)