The State Lands Restoration and Enhancement category provides funding to two state agencies to help repair damaged plant and animal habitat. These grants focus on resource preservation and protection of public lands. Projects in this category help bring important natural areas and resources back to their original functions by improving the self sustaining and ecological functionality of sites.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in cooperation with the Tri-State Steelheaders and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, will use this grant to restore .26 miles of the West Little Walla Walla River and surrounding uplands on the Swegle Unit of the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area, located in Walla Walla County. The goal of the project is to create an improved connection to the Walla Walla River, remove fish passage barriers, improve stream habitat, and restore surrounding vegetation communities. Grant funds will be used to install wood structures in the West Little Walla Walla River, remove reed canary grass and poison hemlock from the streambank, plant riparian trees and shrubs to create shade for the stream, and plant trees, shrubs, and forbs in the surrounding upland areas to improve habitat for pollinators and other wildlife species. Planting the riparian trees and shrubs will help to restore the degraded Columbia Basin Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland habitat type found in the area. The Swegle Unit was purchased in the early 1990s to provide public fishing access to the Walla Walla River as mitigation for habitat losses from dam construction along the Snake River. The West Little Walla Walla River flows through the Swegle Unit before joining the Walla Walla River. This river reach is in a degraded condition due to a potential fish passage barrier, lack of riparian cover, and lack of floodplain connectivity.