Important Bird Areas

Yakima River Delta

Washington

The Yakima River Delta IBA, centered on the confluence of the Yakima and Columbia Rivers at Richland, is bounded by Interstate 82 and Columbia Drive, and extends to the east bank of the Columbia River. It includes Bateman Island, the channel of the Columbia River, and some adjacent uplands from the Interstate 82 bridge to a point 200 meters downstream from Bateman Island. This is a unique setting where two major rivers join in an urban area, yet the site supports a natural environment somewhat isolated from human activities.

Ornithological Summary

This IBA supports five species of state or federal threatened or candidate species, 30 species of waterfowl, 30 species of shorebirds, four tern species, four herons or egrets, and up to 12 species of raptors. Habitat includes semi-arid uplands, open waters of both the Yakima and Columbia Rivers, wetlands, mud flats, and gravelly to sandy shorelines. Bateman Island and some shorelines contain scattered trees, shrubs, and grasses. Mudflats and shallow areas near shore, rare in this part of the state, are critically important habitats. The IBA contains one of only two mudflat/delta habitat complexes in the region. Also important are the riparian forests lining the river, which provide perches for eagles, cormorants, herons and kingfishers. The Yakima Delta still supports a vigorous fisheries resource. The combination of both warmwater and coldwater fisheries provides an unusually rich food source for fish-eating birds.

Conservation Issues

The land along the two rivers has been extensively disturbed in the past but is recovering ecologically. It currently faces threats from recreational overuse, and from invasive non-native plants.

Habitat

Habitats Open fresh water, marsh, mudflat, sand and gravel shore

Land Use

Land Use open space, recreation

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