The following information is from my computer file on the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge’s (WNWR) Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). I have spent the last four months looking into this matter and would like to share this with the Chinook Observer readers.


Hired Dr. Kim Patten 

(a horticulturalist) for its study

• No credentials for waterfowl biology or ecosystems.

• No experience as a waterfowl hunter. In Southwest Washington, hunters must complete a goose identification course and pass a written test to be able to hunt. Dr. Patten could not identify any of the sub-species of Canada geese in the gun club field recently.

• Dr. Patten has said that refuge manager Charlie Stenvall instructed him to only collect data on the geese, not the ducks. How can this study be complete without all the data?

• The 30,000 to 50,000 ducks in Lewis/Porter Point units were not mentioned in the study. Dr. Patten said he recorded no information at all from the Lewis Unit, according to Steve Gray.

• This study was goal orientated. Dr. Patten was manipulated.


The Bishop property, 30 acres, west side in the Riekkola field

• No owner notification since the 2008 announcement, found out about project from goose hunters December 2010. This area will be flooded with saltwater in plan alternative 2. Randy and Sharon Bishop are livid.


Salmon money?

WNWR to receive $473,012 to remove dikes in Lewis and Porter Point    units, Willapa Bay Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group project.

• Money was released to WNWR in 2007. The plan to remove the dikes and public process was built around the money, according to Jon Kaino, county commissioner.

• Pacific County (WRIA 24) Strategic Plan for Salmon Recovery states Lewis and Porter Point Creek are favorable for rearing and overwintering conditions in their present state.

• On Feb. 2, Jon Bates, refuge employee, told us the egg boxes and live releases of salmon that had been attempted in these streams had failed. 

• Lewis, Porter Point and Riekkola creeks have sediment bottoms not suitable for salmon spawning. 

•  This restoration area (which will remain dry on many high tides) is several miles across the shallow flats to the channel. If the dikes are removed, juvenile fish using this area would have to make this trip each tide cycle to survive. This is not practical.


Lewis Unit and county road access lost in 2008

• Seven-day-a-week duck hunting during season will be gone.

• Year-round trail on the dike for walking and bird watching will be gone.

• Charlie Stenvall of USFWS was offered a road easement into the Lewis Unit for free, so long as the wildlife service maintained it. Charlie turned down the offer because he said the dikes were coming out in a couple years anyway. (This is according to Warren Hazen, co-owner of the access road.)

Dikes have been 

a source of misinformation

• The condition of the dikes in the Lewis and Porter Point units appear to me to be as good as 40 years ago. The surface was graveled and show no erosion.

• Refuge headquarters personnel have portrayed the condition of the dikes as bad.

• According to refuge management, it would cost $23 million  to bring them up to USFWS code, a 4:1 slope is needed and it will cost almost as much to fix the dikes as remove them. 

• But a Ducks Unlimited engineer tells me that the code is 2:1 slope and this is only for new construction of dikes. 

• Civil engineer Bart Provo said there is no code for this classification of dikes that are for nonessential impoundment.

    • There are others who have heard Charlie Stenvall say that he will start removing the dikes in the Lewis Unit this June with refuge equipment.

• So what is the actual cost? Is it $30 million or $400,000? Don’t citizens have a right to know? These figures have been manipulated to convince the public to follow Charlie’s plan.

• There are two fish ladder structures here constructed 10 years ago in these dikes. Charlie has decided that the $504,000 invested in these projects will be discarded.

• The preferred plan calls for removing the dikes to return the bay back to its natural condition. Then it says they will construct a mile walkway with a paved parking lot and an observation deck out into the bay. How natural is that? Charlie has made access to the dikes difficult for the birdwatchers the last few years to entice them with his new one-mile trail structure. The Shier dikes were supposed to be open to foot traffic six or seven years ago.


The Riekkola goose field

• Little maintenance has been done to the field in the last 10 years. Goose activity is down.

• In October 2010, Charlie told me that this field had no more food value for geese than anywhere on the bay. Dr. Patten’s study proves that. How can a public official make such statements with no consequences? The Friends of WNWR group believe Charlie and are supporting him.

• This project ignores WDFW and the Pacific Flyway Management Plans for Dusky Canada Goose Recovery and Canada Goose Agricultural Depredation Control.

• The elk that live in this area will re-locate to the Long Beach Peninsula and the Cranberry Bogs resulting in massive crop damage. His big game hunting plan will insure this. This is in direct opposition to WDFW  Big Game management objectives to keep the elk off of the peninsula.

• USFWS acquired the Riekkola Property through a condemnation process that started July 24,1959 to include this property as a public goose field in the refuge. (Pacific County Records)


Waterfowl hunting

• There will be hunting in all of the plans. Charlie is selling this plan as increased opportunity in plan#2. A larger area for hunting? WRONG!

• There will be no access to five miles of shoreline. The dike roads will be gone. The bay is too flat to use a boat except for a short time at high tide. The proposed boat ramp is a joke. There is not enough water there. The launch site is approximately 2 miles out across the mud flats with no channel. Just a 3 foot wide ditch. USFWS uses airboats in the bay for this reason.

• Charlie is going to get someone killed. There has already been one death in his proposed hunting area. A visitor from out of the area a few years ago walked from Hwy 101 into the bay, They found his body three weeks later stuck in the mud. There is too much sediment in the S Willapa Bay. I have sank in the mud up to my waist at low tide 40 years ago.  I was lucky to get out, some will not be as lucky. I have not hunted outside the dikes since. If you go out into the bay at high tide in a boat, you will get stuck out in the bay as the tide goes out. You can’t walk in.

• The abundant food will be gone. There will be no reason for waterfowl to use this area. Just look at the Nisqually NWR that held only 7% of the migratory waterfowl this year since the tidal restoration project there. 

Shier Ranch

• The planned site for the new headquarters is in the middle of the Shier Pasture. This is the WNWR’s second largest goose field!

• Shier ranch is in NRCS Wetland Reserve in perpetuity

• Charlie has applied for 5 acres to be removed for a new headquarters facility. This will impact 100 acres of goose habitat around the compound with increased activity. This would effectively remove both short-grass fields from use under Plan #2.

• What will be the mitigation tradeoff?

• What will be the habitat left in the WNWR for the geese? None.

Be sure to send your comments in to the refuge headquarters in support of Alternative #1

Dan Heasley


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