Washington fish and wildlife managers are looking for public comment on whether they should acquire 4,000 acres of land for salmon, forage fish and critter habitat and public recreation.
The nine projects would primarily pad state wildlife areas in Okanogan and northern Douglas Counties and protect estuaries on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hood Canal and Grays Harbor.
“This is an opportunity to comment on these proposals in the early stages of our strategic thinking,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager, in a press release.
Comments will determine if the agency goes ahead and seeks funding from the legislature and other sources.
The largest is a proposed 2,180-acre land buy around the Central Ferry Unit of the Wells Wildlife Area west of Bridgeport.
“Acquisition will complement and protect area habitat and species including, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage grouse and mule deer, while providing hunting, wildlife viewing, and other recreational opportunities,” a WDFW PDF states.
The buy has the support of Douglas County Commissioners, according to the agency.
On the other side of the Upper Columbia are proposed additions to the McLoughlin Falls (730 acres), Scotch Creek (220 acres) and Golden Doe (110 acres) Units of various wildlife areas in the Okanogan, Sinlahekin and Methow Valleys, respectively.
All would preserve deer and other wildlife habitat from development, while the Scotch Creek deal would be a trade, swapping for 80 acres of state wildlife area being leased for farming.
The three have the support of Okanogan County Commissioners, with the Colville Tribes also on board with the McLoughlin Falls deal along the Okanogan River between Tonasket and Riverside. Concerned about closures in your area? Book the world’s best salmon and halibut fishing in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Canada. Click HERE to learn more.
In Western Washington, WDFW would be transferred 300 acres on the lower end of Big Beef Creek, “one of the largest, most intact watersheds in Kitsap County.”
“Ownership of this property would support continuation of a current restoration project,” an agency write-up states. “Additionally, Big Beef Creek is the only system in Hood Canal where state and tribal fishery managers have enough annual coho salmon out-migrants to mark wild coho salmon for marine survival and harvest forecast.”
It has the support three local tribes, county, DNR, Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group and others.
On the southern shore of Grays Harbor, WDFW would accept a 257-acre donation, protecting habitat and recreational opportunities, and link two other state-managed parcels.
A proposed 216-acre acquisition at the mouth of West Twin River would protect, enhance and restore over half a mile of saltwater shoreline between Port Angeles and Sekiu, including important eel grass beds and spawning areas for surf smelt, and 14,000 feet of riparian habitat in the stream, “one of the most important coho and steelhead systems in the strait.”