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 Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife will use this grant for restoration of approximately 37 acres in the Lower Crab Creek Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area (CBWA), which supports what is suspected to be the most significant monarch butterfly summer breeding site in the state, and a Natural Area Preserve (NAP) established to protect an exemplary saltgrass/greasewood vegetation community. Roughly 1,600 acres of the unit are infested with Russian olive, an aggressive noxious weed, which can transform relatively open riparian and wetland areas into closed canopy forests and outcompete native vegetation, including flowers used by monarch butterflies. The tree also has an overall negative influence on recreational opportunity because of its dense, thorny branches. This restoration project will remove the highly invasive Russian olive trees and restore native species at 2 sites, one adjacent to the core monarch breeding site, the other at the NAP site. Most of the Russian olive at the 7-acre monarch site will be removed and the area restored into an early successional state to benefit monarch butterflies and other pollinators. The NAP site has roughly 30 infested acres that will be cleared of Russian olive and restored to the appropriate native plant communities, including saltgrass/greasewood, sagebrush steppe, and riparian woodland. The primary conservation opportunity provided by this project is restoration.