The Boardman Grasslands IBA consists of two adjacent parcels totalling approximately 69,000 acres: the Boardman Conservation Area and the Boardman Bombing Range (Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility Boardman). These adjacent parcels represent the largest remaining single block of predominantly native shrub steppe and grassland habitats in the Columbia Basin Physiographic Province of Oregon. The Boardman Grasslands have high-quality occurrences of bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) shrub steppe, Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis) steppe, basin big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata) steppe, bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoregneria spicata) grasslands and needle-and-thread (Heterostipa comata) grasslands. In a basin which largely has been converted to dryland and irrigated agriculture, the Boardman Grasslands provide critical habitat for a number of native wildlife species including ten state and/or federally listed threatened, endangered, or sensitive wildlife species.
While somewhat degraded, rangeland (to the west) does still function as nesting area for the species identified on the Boardman Conservation Area, Bombing Range, and Horn Butte ACEC. Nearly all of the area has current or planned wind power projects, so many wildlife surveys have been conducted there in the last few years. Such surveys have documented all of the bird species listed in the site report.
Proposed development of training ranges on the Bombing Range (The Oregon Military Department (National Guard)/Navy) developed, would introduce new buildings and associated disturbance: 1) machine gun training, 2) tanks, 3) two convoy live fire ranges. 2) possible increase in threat from fire, 3) increase in threat from invasive plant species. Numerous wind farms are proposed in the surrounding area.
This site supports what are suspected to be the largest nesting populations in Oregon for Grasshopper Sparrow, Long-billed Curlew, and Burrowing Owl. Significant regional nesting populations of Swainson's Hawk and Ferruginous Hawk use the Juniper Canyon area of the bombing range. Other Partners in Flight focal species for conservation that occur in shrub-steppe habitats in the IBA are Loggerhead Shrike, Sage Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, and Lark Sparrow. This site contains an area of native bunchgrass habitat that has been ungrazed for over 50 years. Ungrazed big sagebrush habitat is also present on the range.
Ongoing efforts at restoration (both in planning and by on-ground activities) include grazing management, exotic plant reduction, noxious weed control, improved management of wildfires, restoration of historically impacted areas, research on the effects of non-natural predator populations on avian communities.
Navy Bombing Range (67% of Boardman Grasslands) is an active range for Whidbey Island Naval Base. Most activity is associated with frequent overflights and practice bombing by military aircraft. Actual bombing only occurs on 4 sections located in center of the tract. Some additional use by Oregon National Guard as a ground training facility is permitted by the Navy. Some administrative buildings are present as are some impacted areas from military activity. However, the site is largely undeveloped shrubsteppe and grassland with minimal human activity. The Boardman Conservation Area (33% of the land area) is owned by Threemile Canyon Farm and is managed by The Nature Conservency through binding legal agreement. The entire tract is managed for conservation values. Vegetative communities are virtually a reflection of the Bombing Range.