Conserving land along our waterways protects important habitat and helps keep our rivers healthy, clean, and more resilient to drought. Riparian Protection projects conserve and restore fresh and saltwater habitat while protecting fish habitat. In doing so, the grants help provide our families, farms, and fisheries with clean water across the state.
Project 14-1480 achieved the goal of acquiring and permanently protecting 1,760 acres of timberlands and Riparian Protection along Busy Wild Creek, the headwaters of the Mashel River, which is the largest tributary to the Nisqually River. Busy Wild Creek is federally designated critical habitat for Nisqually Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, both of which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and a high priority of the Nisqually Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan and a highest priority of the Nisqually Steelhead Recovery Plan. All told, Project 14-1480 protected approximately 31 miles of shoreline along Busy Wild Creek and its tributaries and feeder streams. The project also protected approximately three miles of the most popular section of the Mount Tahoma Trails Association’s hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail, the largest no-fee hut-to-hut public trail in the country, which is used by over 3,000 people annually and is a major economic driver in the Upper Nisqually Watershed. This project combined grant funding from three state programs: the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, and the Salmon Recovery Funding board. It also received funding from the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest Program and the Pierce County Conservation Futures program. However, due to a funding shortfall, the project’s final acquisition was reduced by 160 acres, through a scope change, and the purchase of those 160 acres was funded through RCO Project 17-1086.