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 Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife used this grant to acquire 1,359.2 acres in east Klickitat County. This acquisition was the first two phases of a multi-phase acquisition. The target property was located within the larger Rock Creek Basin, in which WDFW is targeting over 18,000 acres for acquisition in future phases. Rock Creek is the largest Columbia River tributary in Washington and lies between the Klickitat and Walla Walla Rivers. The Rock Creek drainage represents one of the most diverse fish and wildlife habitats in south central Washington. This acquisition provided a unique opportunity to acquire a large intact landscape, maintaining riparian and upland habitat connectivity from the Columbia River to the crest of the Simcoe Mountains. The primary habitats that will be protected include a mosaic of shrub-steppe, interior grassland, Oregon white oak and ponderosa pine. The primary species supported by these habitats include steelhead, Chinook, western gray squirrels, Lewis’s woodpecker, mule and black-tailed deer, black-tailed jackrabbit, burrowing owl, golden eagle, and western toad.