The Natural Areas grant category is critical in a time when native ecosystems are receding, wildlife habitat is threatened, and migratory pathways are being cut off. The Natural Areas category helps combat this by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features, while maintaining public access for recreational opportunities.
This month’s sponsored project is the top-ranked project in the Natural Areas grant category, the Upper Dry Gulch Natural Area Preserve. This site is located on the ancestral land of the Yakama and Wenatchi people, ten miles south of Wentachee and was designated to provide protection for a rare endemic plant species, Whited’s milkvetch (Astragalus sinuatus). The entire global distribution of this species consists of less than 9 square miles centered around the NAP and this project will increase the potential for the species long-term survival.
The Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to acquire approximately 2,161 acres of shrub-steppe habitat consisting of two private properties and a DNR trust land parcel for inclusion in the Upper Dry Gulch Natural Area Preserve. The primary conservation opportunity provided by this project is increased protection for this extremely rare plant community, as well as exceptional opportunities for scientific research and environmental education for local school groups and the public.