Kittitas County conservation projects awarded more than $5 million in grants —

Kittitas County conservation projects awarded more than $5 million in grants

Mary Swift, Sept. 26, 2007, Ellensburg Daily Record

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

CLE ELUM — Two Kittitas County conservation projects are among four top conservation and outdoor recreation projects funded by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) honored this morning by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.

The awards were announced during the Coalition’s first-ever fall breakfast.

The Skookumchuck Watershed Project, funded with a $4.67 million WWRP grant, received the Habitat Conservation Award. It will protect more than 12,000 acres of the most valuable remaining shrub steppe in the state. Skookumchuck Creek is considered critical habitat for threatened upper Columbia River steelhead.

The Upper Yakima Riparian Project, funded with an $818,000 WWRP grant, received the Riparian Preservation Award. It will protect valuable habitat for upper Columbia River Chinook salmon, bull trout, waterfowl and cougars. The effort is aimed at protecting land along the river from encroaching development.

“It’s good for our natural environment and also for sustaining our economy,” said William Meyer, area habitat biologist for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Rivers have to move back and forth across the flood plain. They’re not static. They’re dynamic.”

Besides the two Kittitas projects honored during today’s event, Meyer said this area also received a $250,000 grant  to improve the existing boat launch area at milepost 8 in the Yakima River Canyon.

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition works to obtain public funding for parks, trails and working farms. In the 2007 legislative session, the Coalition helped secure $100 million for the WWRP, a government grant program that funds park, wildlife habitat and farmland preservation projects throughout the state



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