The Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) Fish and Wildlife Program is a dynamic team made up of federal biologists, contracted biologists, seasonal employees, a restoration ecology internship and volunteer program, and an active duty job training program.
Our program mission “is to protect, maintain, and enhance the various ecosystems on the installation to promote native biodiversity and support the military mission.”
To accomplish this mission we monitor native and non-native species (plants and animals), conduct habitat restoration to help manage invasive species in order to improve habitat for native species as well as for military training purposes, and we de-conflict potential Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations by consulting with military units prior to training missions occurring in designated critical habitat.
As well as being the Department of Defense’s premiere military installation of the West Coast, JBLM contains the largest remaining areas of historic glacial outwash prairies. Out of all of the glacial outwash prairie that previously existed there is only 5% remaining and of that, JBLM is home to ~95%. Along with this JBLM also has Garry oak (also known as Oregon White oak) woodlands which are Washington’s only native oaks, Ponderosa pine savannahs which are more commonly found east of the Cascade Mountains, and many wetlands some of which are kettle wetlands which were formed by receding glaciers. Each of these habitats are rare in western Washington and provide a very distinct ecosystem that contributes to wildlife diversity.
Due to JBLM being home to such rare habitats, a lot of what the JBLM Fish and Wildlife Program does is habitat restoration in order to maintain and improve these existing rare habitat areas as well as working to expand them. Habitat restoration on JBLM is primarily accomplished through techniques such as mowing, herbicide, prescribed fire (put link here for prescribed fire page), thinning, plugging (planting small native plant starts), and seeding.
This restoration is important for both the habitats themselves as well as for the many plant and animal species that rely on these rare habitats for survival. Below are some photos of restoration projects that occur throughout base and some photos of the corresponding monitoring that is completed to help determine if the restoration is working.
What is a seibert stake?
Federally Listed Species
Taylor's checkerspot butterfly
Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha) is a federally listed endangered species. It was once commonly found throughout the prairies of the Pacific Northwest. Currently there is only one population known to persist in BC Canada, two populations in Oregon, and eleven populations in Washington. The artillery impact area at JBLM contains some of the highest quality prairies in the Pacific Northwest and some of the few remaining natural populations of Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies. This is impart due to limited access to the area and wildfires that are unintentionally started every year by training activities.
Despite the fact that these butterflies are most visible on the landscape when they are adults flying around during mating season; they are present year-round at different life stages.
For more information see: https://www.fws.gov/wafwo/articles.cfm?id=14948965...
Mazama pocket gopher
The Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazamaI) is a small pocket gopher found only in western Washington, western Oregon and northern California. It is listed as a federally threatened species.This pocket gopher was once widespread on south Puget prairies, but has become increasingly rare as suitable habitat has been lost to development, degraded byinvasive species such as Scotch broom, and naturally converted to forests due to the absence of fires, which were once common on the landscape. For more information see: https://www.fws.gov/wafwo/articles.cfm?id=14948958...
Is it a mole or a gopher? Checkout the Mazama pocket gopher ID card (https://www.fws.gov/wafwo/documents/Gopher%20ID%20Card%204.pdf)
Streak horned lark
The streaked horned lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata) is a federally threatened species.It is a small ground nesting bird, which makes it especially vulnerable to recreation and military training impacts. These birds prefer open areas with few shrubs and sparse vegetation, like road edges and airfields which are mowed often resulting in nests being destroyed. Streaked horned larks are considered partial migrators annually traveling to the Willamette Valley in Oregon in the fall before returning to JBLM the following spring.
Make sure to check posted signs about the seasonality of streak horned lark presence when recreating or training in their habitat.
For more information about streak horned larks see: https://www.fws.gov/wafwo/articles.cfm?id=14948960...
The western bluebird (Sialia mexicana) is a regional species of concern due to their recent population decline across western Washington. This species relies on cavities inside of standing dead trees(snags) in order to successfully rear their young. They have been negatively impacted by the introduction of competing invasive species and the removal of snags from the landscape. Nest boxes have been distributed throughout JBLM to support the species across the installation and to promote dispersal to other areas within its range.
If you see a nest box, please watch from a distance, these birds are sensitive to human influence. If you are interested in volunteering with our monitoring program, please contact email@example.com for more information.
Salmon and Puget Sound steelhead
The waters surrounding JBLM, including the Nisqually River, Muck Creek, and the Puget Sound are home to numerous salmon species. Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink salmon, and steelhead inhabit these waters at different life stages year-round. To learn more visit: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon.html
The Puget Sound steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is listed as federally threatened. These anadromous fish are part of the Nisqually River “winter run” steelhead population and can be found throughout the Nisqually River and its tributaries, including Muck Creek. Unlike salmon which only breed once in their life cycle, steelhead can return to the saltwater after spawning and can reproduce multiple times. The JBLM Fish and Wildlife Program partners with the Nisqually Indian Tribe to monitor the population status of steelhead by conducting breeding surveys called “redd surveys”.
One of the primary management strategies for salmon at JBLM is habitat restoration of the Muck Creek system. Invasive species like reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) clog up the stream channel making migration difficult for steelhead and other salmon and eliminates open gravely areas needed for spawning.
For more information about Puget Sound steelhead see: https://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/protected...
The JBLM Fish and Wildlife Program partners with many organizations to accomplish our mission including:
The Center for Natural Lands Management to conduct natural resource management including plant and animal species monitoring and surveys, and restoration projects including prescribed fire; Sustainability in Prisons Project to grow plants for restoration projects and rear Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies for species recovery; and Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership on shared restoration and research interests.
Other partners include: The Nisqually Indian Tribe, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Department of Ecology, Wolf Haven, and The Nisqually River Foundation.
To learn more about volunteering, interning or joining the active duty job training program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.