Urban Wildlife Habitat projects fund close-to-home places to play and explore nature. As our urban areas are increasingly expanding and densifying, these grants protect important fish and wildlife habitat within five miles of densely populated areas, creating green refuges that help keep our ecosystems healthy and provide places to enjoy nature right in our backyards.
The Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to buy 569 acres, including the top of South Bessemer Mountain, to expand the Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area in east King County. The land is considered the largest and highest quality private land remaining in the conservation area. The department wants to conserve the land to protect significant urban wildlife habitat, natural resources, and wildlife habitat connections, and to provide low-impact public use. The property is highly threatened by mining and residential development. It is key land in the Mountains to Sound Greenway, which is a 100-mile landscape of forests, wildlife habitat, and open spaces along Interstate 90. Distinctive features of the land include talus, lakes, streams, wetlands, old-growth and mature forests, cliffs, and landscape connections for wildlife. The conservation area is used by amphibians, fish, cougars, bobcats, mountain goats, black bears, coyotes, and elk. Red-tailed hawks, osprey, barred owls, pygmy owls, and pileated woodpeckers also have been observed in the area.