As Washington continues to grow, many of our most beautiful areas are threatened with development. In addition, native ecosystems are receding, and important wildlife habitat 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 also preserving public access for back-country recreation.
This month’s featured project is along the Queets River on the ancestral land of the Quinault and Queets people. The Department of Natural Resources used this grant to acquire approximately 585 acres along the Queets River in Jefferson County adjacent to Olympic National Park. This river system has been recognized as a place of high terrestrial and freshwater conservation value and one of the best opportunities to protect and restore native salmon and coastal temperate rainforest ecosystems in the U.S. The property supports five Pacific salmon stocks, Coho, Winter steelhead, Fall Chinook, Chum, and Spring Chinook. Other freshwater species that will benefit include: summer steelhead salmon; federally-listed bull trout; coastal cutthroat trout; Olympic mudminnow; western brook lamprey and river lamprey; Pacific lamprey; as well as numerous state-listed native aquatic plants. The forested portions of the property are North Pacific hypermaritime Sitka spruce forest habitat, which supports habitat for additional conservation targets, including northern spotted owl, Pacific fisher and marbled murrelet.