As Washington continues to grow, many of our most beautiful areas are threatened with development. In addition, native ecosystems are receding, and important wildlife habitat and migratory pathways are being cut off. The Natural Areas category helps combat this by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features while also preserving public access for back-country recreation.
This project seeks to protect excellent to good condition examples of eastern Washington’s original bunchgrass grassland at two sites in Douglas County: Dyer Haystacks and Two Steppe Natural Area Preserves. Big sagebrush and three-tip sagebrush appear in these grasslands with a diversity of native wildflowers and grasses, most predominantly bluebunch wheatgrass (the State grass). These sites include representatives of the unique geology of Washington. Dyer Haystacks is a jumble of glacial erratic boulders and Two Steppe includes a cliff along Moses Coulee. Lands proposed for acquisition provide habitat for federal and state listed species: sharptail grouse and sage grouse (federal species of concern and state threatened); sage sparrow, sage thrasher and golden eagle (state candidate species), and for state sensitive plant species. This project is coordinated with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife efforts to restore habitat for the listed species in Douglas County, and will provide native habitat and a baseline for restoration and management monitoring. Two Steppe is a phase 2 acquisition that will add to the NAP’s core area; The Nature Conservancy is a partner in this project. DNR is planning to recommend that the proposed Dyer Haystacks NAP be significantly enlarged.