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 Hood Canal Plateau project in Kitsap County targets acquisition of 604 acres of stream corridors, wetlands, and lakes at the headwaters of the Tahuya River – the largest and one of the most important rivers on the Kitsap Peninsula. This is the fourth phase in a successful, long-term, multi-agency, private-public effort to protect the best remaining habitat for Hood Canal salmonids and other wildlife on the Kitsap Peninsula. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Hood Canal Environmental Council, and the Hood Canal Salmon Sanctuary (which includes the University of Washington, the Department of Natural Resources, Kitsap County, Point No Point Treaty Council, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, and Great Peninsula Conservancy) are sponsors of the protection project. Since 1996 the Hood Canal Salmon Sanctuary has purchased 702 acres of prime fish and wildlife habitat in this and adjacent watersheds using Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program funds, grants from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, and local funds. This area provides direct habitat for coho, cutthroat and steelhead, and indirect habitat for threatened Hood Canal summer chum and Puget Sound Chinook. This area contains much of the headwater wetlands upon which the health of the river depends. In addition to these aquatic species, several threatened and candidate terrestrial species, including: birds (bald eagles, pileated woodpecker, purple martin), amphibians (western toad and red-legged frog) and mammals (Keen’s myotis and Yuma myotis) may utilize the area.