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.
Wolf Fork Ranch consists of 1,300 acres of forest, grassland, shrub/scrub, and riverine habitat at the headwaters of Wolf Fork Creek located southeast of Dayton in Columbia County. Blue Mountain Land Trust is proposing to acquire 1,253 acres of critical wildlife habitat on the Ranch via a conservation easement that encompasses 3.25 stream miles of four freshwater streams that flow year-round and are occupied by steelhead, bull trout, and spring Chinook (Wolf Fork only). The proposed project site abuts Umatilla National Forest, providing contiguous habitat protection for target species on lands designated as climate resilient and viable for connectivity. Protection as critical habitat will enable the Land Trust to: 1) conserve important winter rangeland and calving grounds for Rocky Mountain Elk, 2) conserve winter rangeland for Mule deer and Northwest white-tailed deer, 3) protect headwater streams that supply freshwater resources to present and downstream salmonid habitat, 4) conserve and maintain ideal habitat for state and federal priority species , and 5) actively steward land adjacent to U.S. Forest Service Land for ecological health in perpetuity through site-specific management plans. In addition, acquisition of this site via an acquired easement will permanently protect an RCO-funded fish passage project (RCO #09-1554) on Whitney Creek that was completed by Tri-State Steelheaders in 2010.