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.
Through acquisition of land within the proposed Elk River Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) boundary, WA State will protect critical components of its largest, most diverse, high quality estuary. The Elk River estuarine system contains seven Wetland and Aquatic Ecosystem Elements: 1) transition zone wetland, 2) silty, low salinity, low marsh, 3) mudflat, 4) silty, moderate salinity, low marsh, 5) moderate salinity, high marsh, 6) low salinity, high marsh and muddy channel/slough. These elements are listed as priority 1,2,2,3,3,3&3 respectively, in the St of WA Natural Heritage Plan. As part of the Pacific Flyway, Elk River also provides an important stopover site for shorebirds and waterfowl. The quality of the Elk River estuary is currently threatened by logging, encroaching development and the invasion of exotic species. This acquisition project will buffer the estuary from detrimental human activities, while providing opportunity for more comprehensive management of invasive species that already threaten Grays Harbor.