As Washington continues to grow, many of our most beautiful areas are threatened with development. In addition, native ecosystems are receding, and important wildlife habitat and migratory pathways are being cut off. The Natural Areas category helps combat this by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features while also preserving public access for back-country recreation.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to buy 569 acres of shrub steppe for inclusion in the Methow Rapids Natural Area Preserve, conserving a rare plant community. The land is along the Columbia River, just downstream from its confluence with the Methow River. The land contains the largest of only three intact examples of the smooth sumac/bluebunch wheatgrass community in the state and the largest of only nine intact examples of the antelope bitterbrush/bluebunch wheatgrass community in the state. Several species of birds found on the land are listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife State Wildlife Action Plan. The land also will improve public access from Starr Road and State Route 97.