Conserving land along our waterways protects important habitat and helps keep our rivers healthy, clean, and more resilient to drought. Riparian Protection projects conserve and restore fresh and saltwater habitat while protecting fish habitat. In doing so, the grants help provide our families, farms, and fisheries with clean water across the state.
The Columbia Land Trust will use this grant to buy the 1,288-acre Wildboy forest including Kwoneesum Dam to enable dam removal and restoration of the forested watershed. The land encompasses 0.5 mile of the West Fork Washougal River, 2.5 miles of Wildboy Creek, and 0.9 mile of Texas Creek, all in the Washougal River watershed. The waterways are used by lower Columbia River steelhead trout and coho salmon, both of which are species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Set within the west slopes of the Cascade Mountains, the steep, forested land was owned by a timber company and actively marketed for sale as a house site with the reservoir as a recreational amenity. The land trust partnered with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe with the shared goal of removing Kwoneesum dam, restoring Wildboy Creek, and opening 6.5 miles of tributaries above the dam. The dam will be the largest removed in Washington State since the Elwha dams in 2014. In addition, the purchase will protect a 7-acre beaver constructed wetland, prevent future rock mining, and open the entire property to the public. The Columbia Land Trust will contribute more than $2.1 million in private and state grants.