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 Mid-Columbia 2012, Phase 2, will complete the protection of 4,000 acres of contiguous shrub-steppe habitat in Douglas County containing historic lek sites for sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse. One of the most active sage grouse leks is located just ¼ mile from the site, while an active sharp-tailed grouse lek is 3 miles away.Located in the heart of both state-wide grouse populations, this project maintains a critical connectivity bridge within Douglas County. Habitat connectivity is critical for the continued existence of not only these grouse species, but a wide variety of shrub-steppe obligate and dependant species as well. These include: Brewer’s sparrow, sage thrasher, sage sparrow, white-tailed jackrabbit and Washington ground squirrel. Habitat features on the property include cliffs, talus and seasonal wetlands. While the area is dominated by shrub-steppe habitat, there is a great diversity within that type: bunchgrass dominated expanses, dense sage cover, lithosol sites and three-tip sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass associations. This project will provide the long-term protection of the quality habitats necessary for maintaining shrub-steppe obligates. It addresses limiting factors such as winter habitat, breeding habitat, habitat quantity, and habitat connectivity. The project also will provide an important link between significant wildlife habitats, extending the long-term protection existing WDFW lands, which, in turn, will multiply the value of this acquisition.