Conserving land along our waterways protects important habitat and helps keep our rivers healthy, clean, and more resilient to drought. Riparian Protection projects conserve and restore fresh and saltwater habitat while protecting fish habitat. In doing so, the grants help provide our families, farms, and fisheries with clean water across the state.
This proposal acquired important properties within the ecological core of an existing Natural Area Preserve. The Chehalis River Surge Plain NAP protects a diverse complex of estuarine and riverine wetland communities. It represents a unique opportunity for protection of a large intact ecosystem with natural hydrologic functions. The properties acquired included critical parts of Preacher’s and Blue sloughs, sinuous tidally influenced waterways that wind through the heart of the surge plain. Sloughs such as this provide important off-channel habitat for juvenile salmonids during their adjustment to marine conditions. Habitat for other fish including the Olympic mud minnow is also protected within the wetland. Most of the site is Sitka spruce dominated forested wetland. Within the surge plain, nesting, roosting and foraging habitat is protected for eagles, osprey, great blue heron, waterfowl, shorebirds, and neo-tropical migrant species. Animal species which inhabit the subject properties include bear, river otter, raccoon, beaver, muskrat, and other mammals. Acquiring these properties has been a significant contribution toward completion of the preserve, which has been recognized as a national priority for protection.