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 seeks to acquire land in the Simcoe Mountains, Klickitat County. Phase 6 of this multiphase project proposes to acquire about 5,112 acres of ~20,000 acres. The property is a unique large-scale landscape that includes mixed conifer, Oregon white oak, white alder, shrub steppe, grasslands, cliffs, and 26 miles of riparian habitat that includes the upper Rock Creek drainage (tributary to the Columbia River) and its tributaries. Priority species to protect include federally listed steelhead, state threatened western gray squirrel, mule deer, rainbow trout, Northern goshawk, and western toad. A partnership between WDFW and East and Central Klickitat Conservation Districts jointly manages this landscape through a Coordinated Resource Management process for protection of fish and wildlife habitat that provides connectivity from the Columbia River to the Cascade Mountains, within a working lands framework of compatible grazing and forestry. Public access is currently restricted; acquisition of this land would offer quality non-motorized public recreation to this area (e.g., hiking, hunting). The property is gated and offers practical land management options for fish and wildlife protection and access for forestry, grazing, and recreation management. Restoration would focus on managing riparian and upland habitats for critical species longevity. Threats to this property include large-scale conversion of forest, shrub steppe, and grassland into small recreational properties.