As Washington continues to grow, many of our most beautiful areas are threatened with development. In addition, native ecosystems are receding, and important wildlife habitat and migratory pathways are being cut off. The Natural Areas category helps combat this by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features while also preserving public access for back-country recreation.
The Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to buy and manage 1,380 acres of privately owned property at Two Steppe Natural Area Preserve (NAP) in Douglas County. The Two Steppe NAP was established in 1997 to protect three high quality plant communities and to provide habitat for both federal and state listed species including sage grouse, sage sparrow, sage thrasher and golden eagle. Shrub steppe has been fragmented throughout its range by conversion of habitat, mostly to agricultural lands, altered by invasive species and degraded by incompatible land management practices. This acquisition is important to prevent conversion of the priority parcels and to permanently protect these high-quality shrub steppe ecosystems. Two Steppe NAP is located within the Moses Coulee National Sage Grouse Priority Area for Conservation (PAC) and is within the breeding area of the Douglas-Grant County Greater Sage-Grouse population.