Grant Will Help Protect Yakima River Corridor (WA)

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, 9/18/02 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, announced that a $3.3 million grant approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will help protect significant properties within the Yakima River Wildlife Corridor.

The money will go toward the purchase of nearly 2,200 acres of timberland in the Central Cascade Mountains of Washington state. TPL has been working to protect these lands in partnership with the non-profit group, the Cascades Conservation Partnership, as well as several public agencies, including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, local officials and groups, including local winter recreation clubs, have been striving to see the property protected. Commercial timber companies, including U.S. Timberlands and Plum Creek Timber Company, own the majority of the targeted lands, which have been under increasing pressure to be converted to non-forest uses.

The grant was awarded by the FWS through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition grant program, authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This program provides federal funds to protect the habitat of endangered and threatened species. In the Yakima River Wildlife Corridor, grant funds will protect habitat of the marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, gray wolf, grizzly bear, and bull trout, which are all listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA. In addition, much of the land will remain open for winter and summer recreation. The grant will complement private donations that have been raised by the Cascades Conservation Partnership.

“These critical funds will help protect 2,200 acres of forest land, preserving the natural habitat of creatures from the bull trout to the grizzly bear,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. “I enjoyed working on this project with the Trust for Public Land, which has played such an important role in protecting our forests over the decades.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said, “Having worked hard to secure funding for habitat preservation in Congress, I am pleased that we will protect important areas in the Yakima River Wildlife Corridor. By working together, we will preserve these lands for generations to come.”

“Plum Creek is pleased that the funding for this phase of the Yakima River Wildlife Corridor project has been approved,” said Dave Crooker, Plum Creek’s Cascades Region General Manager.

“Plum Creek has a long history of working well with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies and groups on various projects including the Cascades Habitat Conservation Plan and the I-90 Land Exchange. The Washington Congressional delegation also deserves credit for their tireless efforts to secure funds for this type of project. The real beneficiaries of this program are the citizens of Washington who can continue to recreate in this beautiful area.”

Kent Whitehead, TPL project manager, said, “This grant will enable us to protect an area critical for wildlife, recreation, and Washington’s scenic beauty. TPL appreciates the hard work of our partner agencies, conservation groups and the Washington delegation that made this possible.”

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. In Washington State, TPL has completed more than 190 projects, protecting more than 45,500 acres of land. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 1.4 million acres.