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 Department of Fish and Wildlife will use this grant to buy about 6,700 acres on Simcoe Mountain, which is about 15 miles northeast of Goldendale, to protect wildlife habitat and open the land to hiking, fishing, and hunting. The land is gated and public access restricted. Acquisition of the land would connect protected land from the Columbia River to the Cascade Mountains and provide opportunities for recreation that are unavailable in the area. This is the fourth phase of a project to conserve about 22,000 acres of a unique large-scale landscape that has mixed conifer, Oregon white oak, white alder, shrub steppe, grasslands, cliffs, and 10 miles of shoreline habitat that includes upper Rock Creek and its tributaries. The land is used by steelhead, which are listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act; Chinook Salmon; western gray squirrel, which are on the state’s list of species threatened with extinction; mule deer; burrowing owl; and western toad. This project is an opportunity for a partnership between the department and the East and Central Klickitat Conservation Districts to jointly buy the land for wildlife habitat, grazing, logging, and recreation.