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.
WDFW has been successful in acquiring high quality habitats (shrub-steppe, dry coniferous forest, riparian, rugged terrain) in Okanogan County protecting highly vulnerable shrub steppe habitat and providing a link from shrub steppe habitat of the US to the endangered shrub steppe habitat in Canada. These acquisitions are part of a larger international effort in the Okanogan-Similkameen watershed to maintain the only viable north-south ecological corridor that connect the remaining grassland and shrub-steppe habitat in southern British Columbia with the broad desert and shrub-steppe habitat in the Columbia basin. This international biodiversity hotspot is one of the three most endangered ecosystems in Canada and a priority conservation landscape in Washington. These habitats will help support 77 priority species including 35 Canadian and seven U.S. species at risk of extinction. The close proximity of this wildlife area to residents of North-Central Washington will provide an opportunity for education, research, and recreation on one of the last remaining large blocks of Shrub-steppe lands in the area.