A return of trout stocking to the West End, more land opened for fishing and hunting, and habitat secured for some of Washington’s rarer critters.
Those are some of the benefits a dozen proposed land acquisitions across Washington could serve up in the coming years if they’re funded.
The lands range from a new fishing access at Wentworth Lake near Forks to a deeper salmon and steelhead release site on the Tilton River near Morton, to inholdings at Rustlers Gulch north of Spokane and the Big Bend Wildlife area in northern Douglas County, to padding the WT Wooten Wildlife Area in the Tucannon Valley.
Some are fee-title acquisitions, while others are “pass-through” projects in which conservation easements would be purchased but the land would remain private and undeveloped, such as with 1,082 acres in the Methow Valley.
It’s still early in the process, and WDFW is looking for public comment on the projects.
“We have a responsibility to safeguard the future of fish and wildlife, while also providing for outdoor recreation in our state,” agency lands manager Cynthia Wilkerson said in a press release. “With suitable habitat for many species declining year after year, acquiring and managing land is one tool we have to provide these public benefits.”
Land buys have become a hot topic in recent years, and several lawmakers floated a bill that would have required WDFW and other natural resource agencies to sell off an equal amount of land in the same county they’re buying new ground. The bill got a hearing, but fortunately won’t advance.
Still, the 2017-18 proposals represent a modest package. Most projects are on the small side, but one would increase the size of the Chehalis Wildlife Area by 1,178 acres, while another launches a multiphase effort in the Cowiche watershed to preserve “intact priority habitats” across several thousand acres.
But they’re not all land buys. Trout releases at Wentworth, the only lake stocked on the West End, were scrubbed after access was lost, but a landowner wishes to donate a parcel on the east side for renewed access.
For more on all the projects, go here.
WDFW is looking for input on the lot through March 13. You can email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.