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 will use this grant to buy about 138 acres in the Natural Resources Conservation Area along the Kennedy Creek corridor that connects to the Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve. About 30,000 chum return to spawn in Kennedy Creek every year. The project area provides habitat for coastal cutthroat trout, steelhead, and coho salmon. The project would increase protection for one of the few remaining high-quality salt marsh communities in Puget Sound, including vital habitat for migrating shorebirds such as band-tailed pigeon, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, mountain quail, nesting purple martin, common loon, bufflehead, and brown pelican. The area includes Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail, considered the region’s premier salmon-ecology education trail, which more than 5,000 school-aged children visit each year. The land also provides outdoor recreation opportunities for one of the fastest growing counties in southern Puget Sound.