12 Months of WWRP: Natural Areas

January 2, 2018

As we welcome the new year, the Coalition is doubling down on our efforts to protect and preserve our state’s most precious natural resources. Population growth and development threaten some of Washington’s most geologically and ecologically diverse lands, leading to the destruction of native ecosystems and cutting off pathways to important habitat for wildlife. The Natural Areas category of WWRP helps combat these issues by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features while also preserving public access for backcountry recreation.

Our highlight for January 2018 is the top-ranked proposed project Lacamas Prairie Natural Area 2016 in Clark County. This project awaits $2,601,715 in WWRP funding, which is currently being held hostage as the legislature continues to stall the passage of a Capital Budget.

Once the project does receive funding, the Department of Natural Resources will purchase about 167 acres of rare plant communities northeast of Vancouver. This land includes about 17 acres of shoreline habitat, 11 acres of wetlands, and 139 acres of uplands. This wet prairie land, located in the Willamette Valley, is the only one of its size and quality in Washington. These ecosystems, which are considered Priority 1 plant communities, are seriously threatened by habitat destruction and degradation in one of the most rapidly urbanizing counties in the state. The area is even home to the second largest of 20 known populations of Bradshaw’s lomatium, a globally critically imperiled, federally-listed endangered plant species. It also contains habitat for five state sensitive plant species and one rare animal species, the slender-billed white breasted nuthatch.

It is clear that protecting this land from development is critical to save these endangered and rare species. But without a Capital Budget in place, the land remains in danger of being lost forever. We urge the legislature to put aside partisan differences and pass a budget, to protect this valuable land while we still can!