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.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife will use this grant to remove the highly invasive Russian olive trees and restore native species in the Lower Crab Creek Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area. The Columbia Basin Wildlife Area supports what is suspected to be the most significant monarch butterfly summer breeding site in the state and a natural area preserve established to protect an exemplary saltgrass-greasewood vegetation community. About 1,600 acres of the unit are infested with Russian olive trees, which are an aggressive noxious weed. Russian olive can transform relatively open streambank and wetland areas into forests, outcompeting native vegetation, including flowers used by monarch butterflies. The trees also hinder recreation because of their dense, thorny branches. The department will remove the trees and restore native species at a site next to the core monarch breeding site and on 30 acres of the preserve.