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 Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will use this grant to buy approximately 945 acres of forest and aquatic habitat on the east slope of the central Cascade Mountains in Kittitas County. The site is about 15 miles southwest of Ellensburg, between the LT Murray Wildlife Area to the east and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to the west. The objective of this project is to conserve critical habitat in a biologically rich and high priority location and protect public access. The property provides breeding and foraging habitat for northern spotted owls, supports large ungulate herds, and contains headwater streams that support steelhead and salmon recovery efforts. Recreational uses may include hiking, bird watching, hunting, and fishing. Conservation of this property will implement key elements identified in state and federal management and recovery plans, provide recreational access which is an important community and regional value, and secure a critical gap in the larger Heart of the Cascades landscape, thus increasing habitat connectivity.