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.
The Department of Natural Resources used this grant to buy 225.57 acres in the Elk River Natural Resources Conservation Area. The conservation area contains the largest, most diverse, highest quality salt marsh ecosystem between Alaska and California. The Elk River estuarine system contains seven aquatic and wetland ecosystem elements listed as a priority in the state’s Natural Heritage Plan. The estuary is threatened by logging, development, and the invasion of exotic species.