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 added approximately 2,250 acres to the Cowiche Unit of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area, which now totals 5,107 acres. The project preserves listed priority habitats and associated wildlife species and protects and retains functional migration corridors and core wildlife habitat. 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, and nuthatch. The property acquired provides important winter range for deer and elk. Other species that will benefit include sage grouse and western gray squirrel. Public benefits include hiking and wildlife viewing which includes numerous sage-obligate wildlife species as well as excellent wildflower displays. Refer to attachment 20 for a map of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area, Cowiche Unit and acquired parcels.