WDFW’s multi-stage buy of a massive Blue Mountains ranch managed for big game hunting and featuring 7 miles of riverfront got a huge boost today with news that the state scored $3.7 million to buy 4,160 more acres of the 4-O.
The money comes from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund and will help protect bull trout habitat in the Grande Ronde River and its tributary, Cougar Creek.
The agency’s Brian Trickel, who manages land buys in Eastern Washington, termed it “absolutely critical” to get the Service’s support on its Mountainview Project.
Additional money must come from the state Legislature, but Trickel noted the federal contribution would “help shorten up the acquisition process.”
The state is buying the 13,000-acre spread from Mike Odom, who actually approached WDFW about selling.
The initial buy of over 2,000 acres was approved by the Fish & Wildlife Commission last winter.
The mountainous property is bisected by deep drainages and is home to elk, deer and bighorn sheep. It’s also the site of the now-vanished community of Mountain View.
If you’re familiar with steelheading on the Ronde, it’s the land right above Cottonwood Creek smolt release site and the Cougar Creek boat launch. In fact, the river there has already been opened to public access and small game, bear and cougar hunters have been greenlighted to hunt the new state land.
“For this year it will only be open to (deer and elk) hunters who drew a 4-o permit,” notes regional wildlife manager Kevin Robinette in Spokane.
For more on the land and project, see our original story here.