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 land acquisitions within the Elk River Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) boundary, the state will protect the critical components of its largest, most diverse and highest 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, 7) muddy channel/slough. These are listed as priority elements in the state’s Natural Heritage Plan. As part of the Pacific Flyway, Elk River also provides an important stopover 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 help protect the estuary from these incompatible activities, while providing opportunities for more comprehensive management of invasive species already threatening Grays Harbor.