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 196.4 acres east of Washougal at the western edge of the Columbia River Gorge for inclusion in the Washougal Oaks Natural Area. This project is part of an ongoing effort to acquire land encompassing the largest, high-quality, native oak woodland remaining in western Washington. The woodland is of major conservation concern due to historic losses and ongoing degradation. In addition, a fish-bearing stream inside a steep forested ravine runs through the heart of the site. The land supports two state sensitive plant species and four rare or threatened animal species: slender-billed nuthatch, and lower Columbia River steelhead trout, coastal cutthroat trout, and coho salmon.