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.
This project proposes to protect 10,000 acres of habitat crucial to the survival of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse. The population of this species has steadily declined to the point that it was listed this year a a State Threatened Species. Since habitat loss is the most important factor in this decline, this project will seek acquisitions and conservation easements on the best remaining habitat in Douglas and Okanogan Counties. Historically, great numbers of sharp-tails were found in the native shrub-steppe and grassland habitats of Eastern Washington. These habitats have steadily been converted first to agricultural use and recently to development and subdivision. Grassland habitat types of eastern Washington have been reduced from 25% of the landscape to 1%. The WA State Management Plan for Sharp-tailed Grouse” has identified the protection of the remaining viable grassland, shrub-steppe and associated Riparian Protection habitats as key to the survival of the remaining sharp-tail populations. These sites are very diverse and other species that will benefit include sage thrasher, sage sparrow, loggerhead shrike, white-tailed jackrabbit and other shrub-steppe species. This is Phase 3 of an ongoing project to protect key sites. Funding for enhancement and operations of previously purchased sites has been provided by BPA Mitigation Program. Further acquisition are also planned making BPA a full partner in our efforts to protect Washington’s shrub-steppe habitats and wildlife species. The legal description of the properties to be acquired is described as follows: Chesaw Unit – T40N, R29E. & R30E. Tunk Valley Unit – T35N, R27 E.W.M. Northwest Douglas County – T28N, T29N, & T30N, R24 E.W.M.