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 Department of Fish and Wildlife will use this grant to acquire 4,635 acres in the Skookumchuck Watershed in Kittitas County. The property is primarily shrub-steppe habitat, with stream, Riparian Protection, cliff, talus, and cave habitats as well. This acquisition will complete the department’s efforts to acquire 17,500 acres, establish a landscape-scale link between the Whiskey Dick and Quilomene Wildlife Areas, and protect virtually an entire watershed in a key location. The property is between wildlife areas and a gap between protected areas within the largest swath of shrub-steppe remaining in the state. The Skookumchuck also is listed as an Audubon Important Bird Area. A long list of wildlife will benefit from this acquisition, including sage grouse, sage thrasher, sage sparrow, loggerhead shrike, and sagebrush lizard.