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 Columbia Land Trust will use this grant to conserve 1,623 acres and 10 miles of salmon streams in Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties in southwest Washington. The wet and almost entirely forested Grays River watershed is essential to the recovery of species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, including marbled murrelets, eulachon smelt, and lower Columbia River chum, coho, and fall Chinook salmon. The land is in the upper watershed and includes mature Sitka spruce forests, productive stream bank habitat, and wetlands. The purchase will create a corridor connecting two large blocks of state-owned land where murrelet conservation efforts in southwest Washington are concentrated. In addition, the purchase will enable more than 5 miles of river restoration to occur to support the most significant chum salmon population remaining in the lower Columbia River basin. The Columbia Land Trust will contribute more than $3.1 million in a private, state, and federal grants.