Big Bend Wildlife Area land purchase approved —

Big Bend Wildlife Area land purchase approved

By Rich Landers
Spokesman-Review

PUBLIC LANDS --The purchase of 9,123 acres in Douglas County to protect shrub-steppe habitat for wildlife and provide public access for outdoor recreation has been approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The commission OKed the acquisition Friday during its meeting in Spokane.

The acquisition is the second phase of a multi-year plan to secure the 20,571-acre Grand Coulee Ranch. In last year’s first phase, the Department of Fish and Wildlife acquired about 4,200 acres of the ranch property. The phase two purchase includes 14 miles of river frontage and critical habitat for the state endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit and state threatened greater sage-grouse and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, and other wildlife.

Located on the south side of Rufus Woods Reservoir on the Columbia River, WDFW secured an option to purchase the 9,123-acre property for an assessed value of $3.9 million with grants from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the federal Dingell-Johnson Act (funds from excise taxes on fishing equipment).

WDFW received support for the acquisition from the Douglas County Commission. Once the sale is closed, the land will be managed as the new Big Bend Wildlife Area.

The commission also took comment on proposed amendments to state wildlife interaction rules addressing predation on livestock, crop damage and other sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. The proposed amendments have been under a public review process since June 2014 and are scheduled for commission adoption at their Nov. 13-14 meeting in Olympia.

The commission was also briefed on proposed changes to sportfishing rules in the freshwater areas of Puget Sound and the coast. Comments will be accepted through Nov. 4 and the commission will take comment at their Nov. 13-14 meeting in Olympia. Commission rule adoption is scheduled for their Dec. 11-12 meeting in Port Townsend.

Read the complete story at Spokesman-Review
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