12 Months of WWRP: Critical Habitat

April 6, 2020

Here at the Coalition, we’ve been encouraging folks to #stayhomestayhealthy, and we’re bringing nature to you! This month, we’re taking you west of Yakima to this month’s featured WWRP project, Cowiche Watershed 2018. Read on to learn more about the project and watch a video that transports you to this beautiful wildlife habitat area. 

The Cowiche project received funding from the Critical Habitat category of the WWRP, April’s featured WWRP category. Critical Habitat projects protect the rich and diverse habitats of our forests, prairies, and wetlands. These funds help preserve our state’s most biodiverse lands and protect species that are popular for hunting, birding, and other outdoor recreation, and are critical for the health of our salmon and fish populations.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will use this particular grant to acquire approximately 4,480 acres within the Cowiche Watershed. The property includes shrub steppe and oak-ponderosa pine woodland habitat and more than seven miles of riparian habitat along Cowiche Creek. This project provides crucial winter range for deer and elk and offers protection of the migration zone for the largest elk herd in Washington state. It also protects habitat for Mid-Columbia steelhead, threatened western gray squirrel, nearly 70 species of butterflies, and numerous cavity nesting bird species including the Lewis woodpecker. Cowiche Creek is an important spawning and rearing habitat for bull trout, coho, and chinook salmon. 

Recreational opportunities are abundant on the property and include hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and hiking. Its close proximity to Yakima make it an ideal destination for both locals and visitors. In addition to the WWRP grant, critical funds came from WWRC partners Forterra and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to help make this project possible. 

Here’s a video of the Cowiche area to help you experience the beauty and wildlife of the area, from the comfort of your home. Thanks to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for making this video possible!