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 proposal is for acquisition of 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 proposed for acquisition include critical parts of Preacher’s Slough, a sinuous tidally influenced waterway that winds 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, and the Olympic mud minnow is also protected within the wetland. Further west, another property supports marshes and 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. Acquisition of these properties will be a significant contribution toward completion of the preserve, which has been recognized as a national priority for protection.