Urban Wildlife Habitat projects fund close-to-home places to play and explore nature. As our urban areas are increasingly expanding and densifying, these grants protect important fish and wildlife habitat within five miles of densely populated areas, creating green refuges that help keep our ecosystems healthy and provide places to enjoy nature right in our backyards.
Acquisition of 28.68 acres of near pristine quality habitat to sustain populations of important wildlife, old growth trees, and fish including four species of the family Salmonidae within the Illahee Creek watershed and sub-watersheds just north of Bremerton on the Kitsap Peninsula. This deeply incised channel with heavy forest cover and diverse native plant communities is impenetrable in many areas despite being in an urban growth area. The 2nd largest Pacific Yew tree in the U.S. has been found in the Illahee Forest (UW Champion Trees Program) and many 250 year-old conifers exist. It contains unperturbed wildlife habitat, is an important bird area candidate (Audubon Society), salmon refugia and nodal corridor for Coho, chum, Steelhead and cutthroat as well as critical contributing areas to downstream salmonid and estuarine habitat. The site exhibits rare habitat attributes in comparison to other western WA watersheds with potential to benefit salmonid protection and restoration. Retention of natural stream hydrology is imperative to maintaining suitable habitat for salmonids and conditions in streams in these undisturbed areas appear to be very stable. The 2002 Refugia study update by Dr. Chris May ranks Illahee as an important refuge watershed. Permanently preserving this property, at imminent risk of being developed and logged off, will provide vital rearing areas and help maintain the hydrology of the watershed central to a heavily urbanized area.