Critical Habitat projects are our state’s primary tool for conserving important fish and wildlife habitat. These projects protect the rich and diverse habitats in our forests, prairies, and wetlands. These funds help maintain our state’s biodiversity and protect species that are popular for hunting, birding, and other outdoor recreation, and are critical for the health of our salmon and fish populations.
The Cowiche Watershed project preserves listed priority habitats and associated wildlife species, and protects and retains functional migration corridors and core wildlife habitat, and provides important winter range for deer and elk. These acquired properties were incorporated into the Cowiche Unit (5,107 acres) of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area. WDFW priority habitats found in this project area include shrub-steppe, oak woodland, aspen stands, cliffs, wetlands, and talus. This project benefits listed and priority species associated with these habitat types including golden eagle, loggerhead shrike, sage thrasher, sage sparrow, white-headed woodpecker, Lewis’ woodpecker, nuthatch spp., deer and elk. Other species that will benefit include sage grouse and western gray squirrel. This project also benefits Hover’s tauschia, a rare plant, listed by the Washington Natural Heritage Program as threatened. Public benefits include hiking and wildlife viewing which includes numerous sage-obligate wildlife species as well as excellent wildflower displays.