The Boise and Snake River Valleys are major waterfowl wintering areas in the Pacific Flyway. Lake Lowell provides roosting and feeding habitat for large numbers of migrating and wintering waterfowl, primarily mallards and Canada geese. Upland game birds are common to the refuge and include ring-necked pheasant and California quail. The majority of past study and monitoring on the refuge has focused on waterfowl and other game birds. Informal surveys were conducted in mid-June of 1998 within each of the major habitat types at Lake Lowell for breeding birds, resident mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Surveys for breeding birds were conducted in 4 distinct habitat types: Russian Olive-fringed Marsh; Shrub-steppe Uplands; Cottonwood Forest; and Willow/Shrub Uplands. During June and July of 1998, field surveys for amphibians and reptiles were conducted. A list was compiled of birds and amphibians detected in each of the habitat types. Through incidental observations, tracks and other signs, a list of mammals was created. The potential affects on wildlife from the management actions proposed by the US Bureau of Reclamation to improve water quality was discussed in this report. The effects vary depending on the habitat type. Habitat for breeding birds in the Russian Olive-fringed Marsh and Shrub Steppe Upland could likely be improved by management of exotic vegetation and introduction of more native plant species. The Cottonwood habitat on the south side of Lake Lowell could be greatly affected by management actions that manipulate the lake water levels. If cottonwoods were dry during spring breeding season, this could allow for understory willow growth and other upland vegetation. This would improve habitat for breeding songbirds, but it is unknown how it may affect breeding birds in the existing habitat. Amphibians could be directly affected by management actions designed to improve water quality. Manipulation of lake water levels during the breeding season could result in stranding of amphibian eggs. Because amphibians respire through their moist skins, they could be directly affected by contaminants in lake water or sediments. Improving water quality within the refuge should benefit native amphibians in the long run. It is unlikely that proposed management actions would affect resident reptile species. Most reptiles live in upland habitats removed from the lake or its associated wetlands, and are thus not likely to be directly affected by high contaminant levels. The study recommends that more extensive and detailed surveys be conducted of wildlife, and the use of GIS technology to determine the exact amounts of specific habitats. Also, a detailed evaluation of contaminants within Lake Lowell sediments should be made to determine the extent of contamination possible to migrating shorebirds and other wildlife.
Learn more by reading the full report : Beck, J.M.; Kaltenecker, G.S. ; Taylor, D. Preliminary Survey of Breeding Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, And Resident Mammals At Lake Lowell, Idaho, Spring/Summer 1998, Prepared for USFWS Lower Snake River Field Office, Boise, Idaho. March, 1999
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