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.
The goal of the Methow Watershed project in Okanogan County is to secure the habitats necessary to maintain all of the ecological processes of the watershed and to sustain maximum biological diversity. This phase of the project will secure the critical habitats that are under-represented in the protected land base and link them to existing agency holdings. The target parcels will help protect the largest privately-owned, contiguous block of shrub-steppe habitat remaining in the watershed, along with four miles of Beaver Creek frontage and two miles of Methow River frontage in a critical area for sharp-tailed grouse, spring Chinook and Upper Columbia steelhead. In addition, these acquisitions will protect biologically-rich riparian forests and provide important habitat for riparian songbirds, furbearers, amphibians and many other priority species. The target parcels connect to public land and link critical riparian 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. The Methow Watershed project is WDFW’s most successful WWRP acquisition project to date. The finished product will serve as a showcase for the compatibility of sustainable development and resource conservation.