This month’s featured category is Urban Wildlife Habitat, and the highlighted project is Middle Ohop Protection Phase III. This project is especially important now because it is one of the 15 land acquisition projects unfairly targeted and cut in the House of Representatives’ Capital Budget Proposal.
Instead of following the Senate’s lead and sticking to the balanced funding formula that is the hallmark of the WWRP program, the House chose to single out acquisition projects like the Middle Ohop and cut them altogether. This breaks faith with grant applicants like the Nisqually Land Trust, who applied for the grant to restore the Middle Ohop.
The land trust applied for a WWRP grant to buy and begin restoration of 32 acres along Ohop Creek, one of the two main tributaries to the Nisqually River. The land is near Eatonville, in Pierce County (Legislative District 2), and includes nearly a quarter-mile of Ohop Creek.
The land will extend, enhance, and buffer habitat for 196 species and includes priority spawning habitat for five species of native Pacific salmon, including Chinook Salmon and steelhead trout, both of which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act. Without the protection of their habitat, these species will be put at much greater risk.
The land to be purchased also includes 6.5 acres north of the creek, which are predominantly fallow pasture, and south of the creek, which consist of 16.5 acres of fallow pasture in the floodplain and 9 acres of forested bluff. The land trust plans to demolish four structures that are currently in poor condition on the land.
The land trust will contribute $215,819 in cash, a grant from the salmon recovery program, and donations of labor to the project.
The acquisition of this land will not only preserve the natural landscape of the area, but will protect precious endangered species—but only if the House restores this important project to their final Capital Budget.
What You Can Do Right Now!
If you agree that projects like this are vital for our community and that maintaining the integrity of the WWRP is paramount, please check out this toolkit to take action, or contact your local elected officials to let them know that you support land acquisition and the inclusion of the Middle Ohop Protection Phase III in the final budget.