Skookumchuck Watershed

Category Overview

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.

Project Highlights

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will use this grant to acquire 5,768 acres in the Skookumchuck Watershed in Kittitas County. The property is primarily shrub-steppe habitat, with stream, riparian, 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.

Quick Facts

WWRP Applicant: Fish & Wildlife Dept of Category: Critical Habitat WWRP Grant: $3,110,070.37 Applicant Match: $0.00 Project Type: Acquisition County: Kittitas Legislative District: 13 Status: Closed Completed RCO Project # 06-1807

Location Details

A 4-wheel drive vehicle is strongly recommended for this route: Head east on Interstate 90 and go past Ellensburg. Take exit 115 for the town of Kittitas. Wind you way into town and proceed down the main street until the road comes to a T. Go right at the T and then take a left (north) on Number 81 Road. Go north on that for 1 mile to the stop sign and take a right. This is now the Old Vantage Highway. Continue east on the Old Vantage Highway for 4 miles and take a left on the Parke Creek Road. Go a mile north and go right when the road comes to a T. In about half a mile, the road turns to dirt and gets rough. In approximately 1.5 miles you begin to enter the western portion of the property. East from Elllensburg on Old Vantage Highway. Parke Creek Road North along creek onto project. Also, two roads near Ryegrass summit, both headed north, accessing lands. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is mandatory for this route: Head east on Interstate 90 and take exit 136 for the town of Vantage. Go north through town. The road curves to the left and heads west. This is the Old Vantage Highway (OVH). Ginko Ave is on your right and the next road off the OVH is Recreation Avenue. Take Recreation Ave. and look to the left for an old guard rail that serves as a gate with a combination lock. This gate leads to Ginkgo State Park. The road through the park accesses the portion of the Skookumchuck Watershed closest to the Columbia River. The combination changes and can be acquired by calling Wanapum State Park at (509) 856-2700. From the gate it is approximately 8 miles up river to Skookumchuck Creek and the easternmost properties of the proposal. This is a very rough road.

What is the WWRP

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is a state grant program that creates and conserves local and state parks, wildlife habitat and working farms. The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office administers WWRP grants, and the legislature funds the program.