Urban Wildlife Habitat projects fund close-to-home places to play and explore nature. As our urban areas are increasingly expanding and densifying, these grants protect important fish and wildlife habitat within five miles of densely populated areas, creating green refuges that help keep our ecosystems healthy and provide places to enjoy nature right in our backyards.
The purpose of this project was to acquire several sections of upland forest in the Stemilt Basin that were at risk of being sold into private development, and protect them for water, wildlife, and recreational values. The work completed under this grant included coordination with a group of local stakeholders such as the Stemilt Partnership, WDFW, and DNR to evaluate lands and assess for feasibility of protection, completing all necessary legal requirements such as appraisals and purchase agreements, and completing acquisition-related incidental activities. A total of approximately 4,000 acres were purchased with this grant and matching funding sources, including 4 whole sections (1, 26, 27, and 29), and 2 near-whole sections (7 and 23). Incidental activities such as noxious weed treatment, pile burning of slash left behind by previous logging practices, cultural resources reviews, and gate installations to protect sensitive meadow areas were implemented following the purchase. The grant was intended to help with the purchase of sections 16 and 22 as well, but this purchase was held up by legal review and appraisal needs, and despite an approved time extension, the purchase of these sections was not able to be completed in time to use this funding source. These sections will be purchased by WDFW, and the RCO funds intended for this purchase will be returned upon grant closure. A time extension was requested and granted while the State Trust Lands (section 16 and 22) were in the processes of re-appraisal, and an amendment to add gates and fencing as an approved incidental expense was completed.