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 used this funding to purchase 137.94 acres within the Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) along the Kennedy Creek corridor that connects to the Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve (NAP). The acquisition area is known for its robust fall chum run, with an average of 30,000 chum returning annually to spawn in Kennedy Creek. Because there are no hatcheries on Kennedy Creek, the thousands of chum salmon that return annually to spawn are considered a native species with a population that is distinctly associated with Kennedy Creek. In addition, the project area provides habitat for coastal cutthroat trout, steelhead, and Coho salmon. This acquisition will 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 priority parcel includes the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail, considered the region’s premier salmon-ecology education trail, which is is visited by more than five thousand school children each year. The property also provides recreation opportunities for one of the fastest growing counties in southern Puget Sound.