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.
The Department of Natural Resources will use this funding to purchase a key 71.8-acre parcel at the south end of Merrill Lake. This parcel contains the last unprotected area of old growth forest at the lake and would add to a growing block of DNR and WDFW-managed wildlife habitat, which currently includes 2,170 acres of contiguous upland old growth forest, wetland, riparian forest and lakeshore. These lands provide habitat for deer, elk, waterfowl, migratory songbirds, amphibians, raptors and mammals such as marten and bobcat. Rare or uncommon species known to occur on the priority parcel that would benefit from this project include coastal tailed frog, pileated woodpecker, Vaux’s swift, western toad, cascade torrent salamander and bald eagles. Northern spotted owl, northern goshawk, and marten have been seen within a mile of the project area. Merrill Lake NRCA also has outstanding recreational and environmental education opportunities. The lake is one of the few fly-fishing-only lakes in the state and DNR manages a small campground and day use area on the adjacent NRCA. The primary purpose of the grant is habitat preservation with a secondary purpose of providing public access.