As Washington continues to grow, many of our most beautiful areas are threatened with development. In addition, native ecosystems are receding, and important wildlife habitat and migratory pathways are being cut off. The Natural Areas category helps combat this by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features while also preserving public access for back-country recreation.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) used this grant to pursue several valuable properties and ultimately acquire 30+ acres integral to the Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve (NAP). After decades in the making, and thanks to the efforts of many people, DNR successfully purchased the Stoehr ownership. This property was DNR’s highest priority property within the NAP. DNR also acquired the Fairbrooks property, which was originally listed as a priority property under this grant application; however, that property was purchased using federal grant funds. As reported in progress reports over the life of this grant, DNR made efforts to acquire the Cobain, Bloomfield (Hays), and Lightbody properties; however, negotiations on those transactions were unsuccessful. In addition to the priority properties, DNR also approached owners of the Swanson property within the recently designated Kennedy Creek Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) adjacent to the NAP. While these landowners are eventually interested conserving their property, they were not ready to move forward toward selling their property within the lifespan of this grant. The successful acquisitions have increased the protection for one of the few remaining high-quality salt marsh communities in Puget Sound, including vital habitat for migrating shorebirds and salmon. The project site is located off Highway 101 near the Mason-Thurston County line, approximately 12 miles west of Olympia.