Critical Habitat projects are our state’s primary tool for conserving important fish and wildlife habitat. These projects protect the rich and diverse habitats in our forests, prairies, and wetlands. These funds help maintain our state’s biodiversity and protect species that are popular for hunting, birding, and other outdoor recreation, and are critical for the health of our salmon and fish populations.
This project proposes to protect about 5,400 acres of critical wildlife habitat in the Methow River watershed for mule deer winter range and migration as well as anadromous fish passage and production. This project has unprecedented support from the public in general including almost every outdoor associated sports organization in the state as well as local, county, state and federal government. The Methow River watershed is a uniquely rich and diverse ecosystem that is undergoing rapid residential subdivision, fueled by the esthetic and wildlife amenities this project strives to protect. Mule deer corridors and winter ranges were identified through cooperative research projects funded by the US Forest Service and WDFW; 95% of this herd (about 20,000) moves on average 30 miles between summer range in the high North Cascades and winter range in the Methow Valley. Bull trout and anadromous fish stocks including steelhead and salmon have been listed as threatened/endangered in this watershed. Residential subdivision is destroying and threatening the remaining winter range and migration corridors for Washington’s largest migratory mule deer herd. Preserving these upland, migration and riparian corridors for deer and other wildlife is upstaged only by the protection this project will afford threatened and endangered fish stocks in the Methow River and its’ tributaries.