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.
The Wenas-Cleman Mountain project seeks to protect ~1,100 acres of shrubsteppe and riparian habitat in a strategic location that supports imperiled habitats and an extraordinary diversity of species. Shrubsteppe, stream, floodplain and riparian habitat, aspen groves, and talus are features of this location. It borders the Wenas Wildlife Area on two sides and functions as a connection to important shrubsteppe core habitats. The project contains imperiled shrubsteppe habitat bisected by stream corridors in the context of two converging ecoregions abutting a significant conservation ownership. The project will benefit a diverse array of avian, terrestrial and aquatic species. The diversity of bird species in this area is breathtaking. Approximately 25 % of the bird species that occur in the lower 48 states have been identified in this watershed. A significant component of the Yakima Elk Herd winters adjacent to this property. The importance of the project location is supported by regional science-based plans including: The Arid Lands Initiative, the Columbia Plateau Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Analysis and The State Wildlife Action Plan. The development pressure in this landscape and the proximity of this site to cities increases the risk of residential development on the project site. Due to the proximity to the cities of Yakima, Selah, and Naches, the Wenas is an extremely popular area for recreation, including hiking, bird watching, wildlife viewing, hunting, and fishing.