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 Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has acquired 3,512.00 acres of forest and aquatic habitat on the east slope of the central Cascade Mountains in Kittitas County. The site, referred to as Plum Creek/Manastash, is located approximately 20 miles southwest of Ellensburg – between the LT Murray Wildlife Area and the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest. The acquisition provides critical connectivity within the central Cascades landscape, providing breeding and foraging habitat for northern spotted owls and supporting large ungulate herds, which in turn support several large carnivores. The primary habitats that are being protected include the remaining mixed conifer forests and a variety of aquatic habitat. The primary species supported by these habitats include a diverse list of terrestrial and aquatic fish and wildlife species, including federally and state listed species or species of concern, including; northern spotted owl, northern goshawks, mule deer, elk, tailed frogs, western toads, long-toed salamanders, steelhead, rainbow trout, and west slope cutthroat.