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.
Acquisition of the Grays River Watershed-West Fork Conservation Area will protect 1,623 acres and 10 miles of anadromous streams in Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties in southwest Washington. The wet and almost entirely forested Grays watershed is essential to the recovery of ESA-listed marbled murrelets, eulachon smelt, and Lower Columbia River Basin chum, coho, and fall Chinook salmon. The project site is located in the upper watershed and includes mature Sitka spruce forests, productive riparian habitat, and forested/shrub and emergent wetlands. Its location and ecological diversity impart high habitat values for the target listed species as well as 15 of the State Wildlife Action Plan’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). The goals of this conservation project are 1) to achieve landscape-scale benefits for marbled murrelets by creating a corridor connecting two large blocks of DNR-land where the State is concentrating murrelet conservation efforts in southwest Washington and 2) to enable over 5 miles of river restoration to support the most significant chum salmon population remaining in the Lower Columbia River Basin.