The State Lands Restoration and Enhancement category provides funding to two state agencies to help repair damaged plant and animal habitat. These grants focus on resource preservation and protection of public lands. Projects in this category help bring important natural areas and resources back to their original functions by improving the self sustaining and ecological functionality of sites.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFD) will use this grant to restore 0.35 miles of West Foster Creek on the West Foster Creek unit of the Wells Wildlife Area, and 0.4 miles of China Creek on the Big Bend Wildlife Area. These creeks are in a degraded condition due to past flood events, incised channels, and wildfires. Grant funding will be used to install Beaver Dam Analogs and Post Assisted Log Structures, plant native riparian shrubs, trees, and forbs, and remove invasive vegetation. The project will stop the incision process and reconnect the water table with the adjacent vegetation communities. Long-term, the project will create meander, improve water quality, increase groundwater recharge, and expand riparian areas. Planting riparian trees, particularly water birch, is a vital component of this project as this species is the preferred winter forage for the endangered Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse. The West Foster Creek unit held the largest and most widely dispersed stands of water birch in the West Foster Creek drainage. The 2020 Pearl Hill Fire destroyed many of these stands forcing the grouse elsewhere in search of food. The situation in China Creek is similar due to a fire that occurred in 2012. This project gives WDFW the opportunity to restore these creeks to a more healthy, sustainable condition and restore their riparian areas to the benefit of not only sharp-tailed grouse but all wildlife that depend on this habitat.