The State Lands Restoration and Enhancement category provides funding to two state agencies to help repair damaged plant and animal habitat. These grants focus on resource preservation and protection of public lands. Projects in this category help bring important natural areas and resources back to their original functions by improving the self sustaining and ecological functionality of sites.
This project is located on the North Fork Toutle River mudflow that resulted from the 1980 eruption. The Mt. St. Helens State Wildlife Area was established here in 1990 for elk winter range and also provides habitat for federally threatened steelhead and Coho salmon. In 1996-97 several hundred acres of productive elk winter range was lost and river avulsions into tributary streams destroyed high quality salmonid spawning and rearing habitat. The purpose of the project is to place logjams and plant vegetation to enhance and prevent future losses of both upland and riparian/instream habitat. Wood will have to be trucked to the site and will be anchored by buring key logs or using on-site boulders as ballast. This work will occur in about 20 acres over a three-mile area and serves to protect and enhance hundreds of acres of valuable uplands and several miles of productive fish bearing streams. Actions prior to WDFW acquisition have contributed to erosion and associated habitat losses. Recruitment of large wood is absent due to salvage logging that occurred after the eruption. Intensively managed commercial forestlands, impacted by the volcanic blast, surround the wildlife area. Canopy closure in these extensive even-aged stands has substantially reduced elk forage in a wide area. Forage loss due to erosion and watershed scale forest maturation has contributed to reduced carrying capacity and elk winter mortality. There is widespread public support for protecting and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat in this area.