Urban Wildlife Habitat projects fund close-to-home places to play and explore nature. As our urban areas are increasingly expanding and densifying, these grants protect important fish and wildlife habitat within five miles of densely populated areas, creating green refuges that help keep our ecosystems healthy and provide places to enjoy nature right in our backyards.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife will use this grant to buy about 160 acres in Thurston County, expanding the West Rocky Prairie Unit in the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area and protecting one of the last native outwash prairies remaining in Washington. This project will create a 3,632-acre conservation network between Millersylvania State Park, the McIntosh Tree Farm, the Rocky Prairie Natural Area Preserve, and the West Rocky Prairie Unit. Habitat would be protected for dozens of plant and animal species at risk of extinction, including golden paintbrush, which is listed as threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act, and the Mazama pocket gopher and the Oregon spotted frog, both of which are on state and federal lists, as well as 15 species of butterfly of state and federal concern. Rocky prairie is one of only two remaining sites in the Puget trough that once contained all of the prairie specialist butterflies. The public will be able to use the area for walking, hiking, wildlife watching, and hunting on the expanded wildlife area. West Rocky Prairie was recommended for protection by the Interagency Prairie Landscape Working Group. Mima mounds found onsite are considered an ecological wonder. Friends of West Rocky Prairie formed in 2007 to conserve this land and obtained 2,000 signatures requesting the site be protected from industrial use. The local Black Hills Audubon also strongly supports site conservation. As with the attached wildlife area, Evergreen State College and University of Washington would use the site for prairie research.