Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area was originally acquired to provide mitigation by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the Corps of Engineers for big game winter losses. Since the inception of the WMA, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has purchased additional properties adjacent to the original mitigation lands to benefit wintering big game and other wildlife. Tex Creek WMA is owned by the BOR, the BLM, IDFG, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, but primary management responsibilities rest with IDFG.

Ornithological Summary

Tex Creek WMA is particularly important for Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse, a species of high concern in Idaho, which can be found here year-round. Other birds that use this site include: Greater Sage Grouse, Gray Partridge, Chukar, Golden and Bald Eagles, Northern Goshawk, and Gray-crowned Rosy-finch. It is also frequented by migrant songbirds.

Conservation Issues

Development is beginning to encroach on the WMA. It is expected that within 20 years there will be sufficient primary and secondary home activity in the area to justify paving many of the roads in the area, dramatically increasing human presence. Increased human presence may cause significant disturbance to birds. For example, pressure to increase recreational access, in the form of additional hiking trails and a snowmobile trail, is already building. Idaho Department of Fish and Game is working to develop strategies for dealing with human population growth and associated increased public demand for resources available via the WMA. The establishment of a snowmobile trail is unlikely in the near future, as its impact on wintering big game would be too great.

There is a potential for loss of CRP lands around the WMA. However, within the WMA boundaries, 4000 plus acres have been converted from agriculture to permanent cover. Thousands of shrubs have been planted, riparian areas recovered, ponds built, and soil erosion decreased. Although noxious weeds are also prevalent at this IBA, IDFG is aggressively dealing with this issue.

Sharp-tailed grouse numbers in the area show an apparent decrease. Many traditional leks in the area are no longer active. This may be related to several factors: poor production due to cold wet springs, changes in agricultural practices, hunting, or predation. Any one or a combination of these may be working to depress grouse numbers. It is also possible that with the improved habitat, census of leks is becoming more difficult in the area.

Ownership

Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area was originally acquired to provide mitigation by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the Corps of Engineers for big game winter losses. Since the inception of the WMA, Idaho Department of Fish and Game has purchased additional properties adjacent to the original mitigation lands to benefit wintering big game and other wildlife. Tex Creek WMA is owned by the BOR, the BLM, IDFG, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, but primary management responsibilities rest with IDFG.

Habitat

Soils are highly varied and range from deep well-drained loess formed silt loams to shallow stony soils. Significant amounts of heavy clay soils are also present. Rock outcrop and lava rock rims predominate in canyon areas. Soil erosion can be severe during spring runoff and summer storm events.

Temperatures range from -35 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The mean annual temperature is about 43 degrees at the lower elevations. The growing season is generally less than 90 days and light frosts are common during the summer months. Mean annual precipitation ranges from about 12 to 18 inches, moving west to east across the area. Most precipitation falls as snow and spring rains. The area is prone to sever summer thunderstorms.

Normal snow depths are moderate over most of the area. Willow Creek canyon may have a month or less of snow cover in some years with 8 to 10 inches being the normal maximum depth. The eastern portions of the area will normally accumulate 2 to 3 feet of snow.

The area has predominantly south and west aspects. This, combined with a prevailing southwest wind, tends to minimize snow depths and keep travel routes and foraging areas available for wintering elk, deer, and moose.

Vegetation on the area is diverse with good interspersion of different habitat classes. Bitterbrush shrub steppe is the largest single natural habitat class (about 3,500 acres). Tall sagebrush, low sagebrush, juniper, and serviceberry shrub fields are common. Aspen is the most predominant tall cover type. Douglas Fir occupies about 250 acres. Of the nearly 5,500 acres of historical cropland, about 4,700 acres have been converted back into permanent herbaceous cover, generally a mix of perennial forbs such as alfalfa, Lewis blue flax, and small burnett and bunch grasses such as Sherman bluebunch wheatgrass. About 800 acres remain in winter wheat rotation to serve as an attractant and high quality winter/spring forage for mule deer.

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.