Researchers Using Drones to Collect Habitat Data at Scatter Creek Wildlife Area


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff and researchers will fly drones over WDFW–managed westside prairie habitat at the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Thurston County to assess habitat conditions and restoration outcomes.

This drone monitoring will help advance the overarching goals of the State Wildlife Action Plan, Scatter Creek Wildlife Area Plan and species recovery plans for federal- or state-listed species such as the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, mardon skipper and streaked horned lark, according to a news release from WDFW. The project will also test if drones are useful technology for gathering meaningful information that improves habitat management and future restoration activities, according to WDFW. 

Flights will occur periodically from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on flight days, starting in March and continuing through the end of the year. Monitoring will focus on prairie and prairie-oak landscapes found on the Scatter Creek, West Rocky Prairie and Violet Prairie units of the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area. Flights will happen throughout the year in order to track seasonal vegetation changes and assess pre- and post-restoration habitat conditions. All flights will be conducted in accordance with Federal Aviation Association requirements.

When flights occur, WDFW staff may temporarily close trails or certain locations that are within the study area for public safety and to limit impacts to data collection efforts. For information and updates on potential access restrictions, contact Bill Kronland, Scatter Creek Wildlife Area manager, at 360-701-5145.