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.
Securing habitat needed to maintain all ecological processes and sustain maximum biological diversity in the Methow River watershed is the overall goal of this ongoing project. The current emphasis is to secure the most critical habitats under-represented in the protected land base, and link these parcels to existing agency holdings. Targeted parcels will protect the largest privately owned, contiguous block of shrub-steppe habitat remaining in the Methow Watershed, along with 5 miles of Beaver Creek frontage, and 4 miles of Methow River frontage along a critical stream reach. This will provide critical habitat for sharp-tailed grouse, spring chinook and Upper Columbia steelhead. In addition, these acquisitions will protect biologically rich Riparian Protection forests, providing important habitat for Riparian Protection songbirds, furbearers, amphibians and many other priority species. Targeted parcels connect to public land and ink critical Riparian Protection components to protected uplands. Maintaining connectivity will prevent fragmentation, maximize habitat effectiveness and facilitate wildlife movements within the watershed. No other major inhabited watershed in the state offers such opportunity for comprehensive protection of fish and wildlife resources and associated recreation. This is WDFW’s most successful WWRP acquisition project to date, and the finished product will serve as a showcase for the compatibility of sustainable development and resource conservation.