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 Washington Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to buy 2,161 acres about 10 miles south of Wenatchee to expand the Upper Dry Gulch Natural Area Preserve. The preserve was established in 1989 to protect a rare endemic plant species, Whited’s milkvetch, the entire global distribution of which is known only to live in less than 9 square miles centered around the preserve. The purchase will allow the department to conserve the land containing virtually all the plants, increasing the potential for the plant’s long-term survival. There is great public support from the community in expanding the preserve and protecting this rare plant community. This expansion of the preserve also will offer exceptional research opportunities to study the population, biology, and ecology of an extremely rare species.