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.
Klickitat Oaks Phase I is 2,666 acres of priority oak woodland, savanna, and mixed oak and conifer forest above the Wild and Scenic Klickitat River. It is the first of three phases to conserve 8,000 acres of intact and connected Oregon white oak habitat. The project is located 2.5 miles northwest of Klickitat, WA and about 13 miles north of the Columbia River Gorge. The conservation goal is to permanently protect priority plant communities associated with Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) and the birds and wildlife they support. It is one of 11 priority terrestrial habitat types in the state and the vast majority of remnant Oregon white oak in Washington ( 90%) is in this region. This area is where oaks are anticipated to expand under climate change and provide climate resilience if threat of conversion and fragmentation is abated. Fee ownership will facilitate management to benefit oak communities and the 200 species of wildlife they support. The site is a critical link in the Pacific Flyway and source of food for neotropical migratory birds in decline. Priority species supported include Lewis’s woodpecker (FSC), western gray squirrel (ST), acorn woodpecker (SGCN), fisher (SE). Conservation will ensure public access for birding, hunting, and enjoyment of nature. Additionally, the project site will be available to members of Yakama Nation for traditional uses including First Foods and other cultural uses. Grant funds will pay for 50% of the land acquisition costs.