Cartier Slough WMA contains Cartier Slough, a channel of the Henry's Fork River, along with other small channels and potholes which hold water for varying lengths of time in the spring and summer. There are 2.8 miles of riverbank and 3.95 miles of slough canals. The area is predominately a grassland floodplain but consists of a diversity of habitat types. Common flora include: aspen, black cottonwood, black hawthorn, red-osier dogwood, snowberry, sagebrush, rabbitbrush, coyote, narrowleaf and whiplash willow, common cattail, hardstem bulrush, Baltic rush, creeping spike-rush, short-beaked sedge, canary reedgrass, and Kentucky bluegrass. Much of the willow and grassland communities flood during spring run-off during years of high precipitation. The climate is typical of the high desert. Annual precipitation ranges from 8- 16 inches, with an average of 12 inches. Most of the precipitation falls as winter snow with accumulations of up to 18 inches. Freeze-over occurs in mid-November with river and main sloughs open until mid-December. Parts of the River and some sloughs remain open most of the winter.

Ornithological Summary

Waterfowl (Mallard, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Common Goldeneye, American Coot, Snow Goose) use area extensively during spring and fall migration. Canada geese and ducks use area for breeding. Duck, geese, and swan populations winter in area due to open water in the river and parts of the slough. Over 100 bird species use the WMA and surrounding area during summer or breeding seasons. Up to 60 Trumpeter Swans are found here during fall, winter, and/or spring seasons. There is a Bald Eagle nest in the area. The area is used extensively for foraging by large wading birds (Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, White-faced Ibis) that are nesting elsewhere.

Conservation Issues

The primary conservation problem of this site is infestation of noxious weeds, particularly leafy purge, and the potential for extensive infestation by purple loosestrife, which is found at low levels on the WMA and surrounding area. To combat this problem, biological agents for removal of leafy spurge and thistle have been implemented and insects have been used to control spotted knapweed and purple loosestrife. In addition, a cooperative control effort with the local Canal Company is being developed for control of purple loosestrife. Of concern at this site is the potential for increased pressure to use the area for livestock grazing, which would likely result in overgrazing and disturbance. Recreational use is causing disturbance to birds, which is being addressed by restricting public access to foot or equestrian use only. Because residential expansion is increasing in the area, there may be a need to research the possibility of using Palisades mitigation funds to purchase additional property in the area from willing landowners, as well as considering conservation easements.

Habitat

The area is predominately a grassland floodplain but consists of a diversity of habitat types. Common flora include: aspen, black cottonwood, black hawthorn, red-osier dogwood, snowberry, sagebrush, rabbitbrush, coyote, narrowleaf and whiplash willow, common cattail, hardstem bulrush, Baltic rush, creeping spike-rush, short-beaked sedge, canary reedgrass, and Kentucky bluegrass. Much of the willow and grassland communities flood during spring run-off during years of high precipitation.

Land Use

The WMA provides a relatively large block of public land along the Henry's Fork River; an area which is predominately privately owned. Therefore, it is important as a public hunting area for mostly waterfowl, but also deer, moos, and upland game. The area is used by wildlife viewers, as well as by hikers, bikers, and canoers. Ricks College, in Rexburg, uses the area occasionally for classes.

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