Unique Features: Dozens of species of waterfowl overwinter on the Wells Reservoir, taking advantage of productive open water when the lakes, rivers and wetlands where they breed are frozen. Among these are Clark’s grebe, common loon, and Western grebe, all protected as species at risk in Washington State.
The Columbia River drainage in eastern WA is the primary source of open water in winter. In addition to the available plant and animal matter in the reservoir itself, proximity to Columbia Valley agriculture, especially grain fields, provides a vast, high quality food resource for ducks and geese, greatly increasing the numbers of wintering waterfowl (and making Wells a destination for waterfowl hunting).
In addition, Wells reservoir sits at the intersection of three ecoregions: Okanogan Highlands to the north and east, Columbia Basin to the south and east, and the East Cascades to the west. The exceptionally high habitat diversity in the Project area, in conjunction with the riparian, wetland and open water habitat of the project, supports an exceptionally high species richness of wildlife (including waterfowl).
The broad, shallow water habitat area from Brewster Bridge upriver to the upper limits of Bridgeport Bar and Cassimer Bar is one of the largest continuous shallow water submergent vegetation habitats in northern Washington. (Colloquially known as “The Bathtub” by local hunters and anglers). This large, high quality aquatic habitat supports a high species diversity and abundance of waterbirds, up to 20k waterfowl and 30k American coots. As coots comprise up to 80% of the winter diet of bald eagles in NCW, the reservoir provides an important bald eagle winter concentration area.