Critical Habitat projects are our state’s primary tool for conserving important fish and wildlife habitat. These projects protect the rich and diverse habitats in our forests, prairies, and wetlands. These funds help maintain our state’s biodiversity 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.
This month’s featured project is Mt Adams Klickitat Canyon phases II and III, located on the ancestral land of the Yakima, Cowlitz, and Klickitat people. Phase II of the project began in 2019 when the Columbia Land Trust used this grant to purchase approximately 2,700 acres, which straddles the Wild and Scenic Klickitat River from river mile 37.5 to 38.5 and includes 1.7 miles of two major tributaries – Summit and White Creeks. Its unusual topographic and ecological diversity includes a mosaic of dry and moist mixed conifer forests, oak woodlands, aspen, freshwater wetlands, steep canyons, talus slopes, and riparian and river habitats. The protected primary habitat includes riparian and upland, benefiting diverse fish and wildlife species, including at least 15 federally listed species of concern and 21 state-listed and candidate species, such as Western gray squirrel and Northern spotted owl. It also supports numerous migratory game species, including mule deer, black-tailed deer, elk, mountain goat, and big-horned sheep.
Phase III began in 2022 when the Columbia Land Trust used this grant to purchase 4,931 acres in southwest Yakima County and north central Klickitat County. The entire project area is open to public access, including harvesting by neighboring Yakama tribal members and wildlife watching, hunting, and white water sports. The primary habitats protected through this project are oak woodlands, cliffs, talus, instream, and riparian.