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.
Blue Mountain Ranch consists of 2,593 acres of farmland and habitat area situated between Stevens Ridge, Pataha Creek Canyon and the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area located in Garfield County. Blue Mountain Land Trust is proposing to acquire 2,025 acres of critical wildlife habitat on the Ranch via a conservation easement that encompasses 2 miles of Dry Pataha and Pataha Creeks, combined, and the Pataha basin watershed. The proposed project site abuts 285 acres of wildlife habitat that abuts WDFW W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area. The 285-acre section is currently under review for acquisition by WDFW, which would establish contiguous protected habitat if this project site is conserved. The project site includes forestland, grassland, and riverine habitats. Approximately 1,100 acres are fenced for seasonal cattle grazing. The rangeland is leased to a cowboy who runs approximately 150-pair cattle from June through August. Protection as critical habitat will enable the Land Trust to: 1) conserve important winter rangeland and calving grounds for Rocky Mountain Elk, 2) conserve winter rangeland for Mule deer and Northwest white-tailed deer, 3) protect streams that supply freshwater resources to downstream salmonid habitat, 4) conserve and maintain ideal habitat for state and federal priority species , and 5) actively steward connected landscapes for ecological health in perpetuity through site-specific management plans.