Throughout 2023, Washington DNR acquired 1,726 acres of land to set aside for conservation--in addition to 2,000 acres the state announced in December it would set aside for conservation; all 10 land acquisitions will protect plants, habitats

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January 2, 2024 (press release) –

Land transfers across the state will protect native species, aid in public education, and protect Washington’s natural environment for future generations
 
Throughout 2023, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources acquired 1,726 acres of lands to set aside for conservation. Each of the 10 land acquisitions will enhance or expand conservation areas across the state.
 
The land transactions, spanning from the coasts of the Olympic Peninsula to the meadows of the Columbia River Gorge, will protect habitats for rare plants and wildlife and provide educational opportunities for the public.
 
“I am so proud of what DNR has done to conserve lands for the next generations,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “Each of these land acquisitions is a crucial step forward in preserving and protecting our environment and they provide a great opportunity for Washingtonians to learn more about the lands around us. This is a win for our environment, a win for the public, and a win for Washington state.”
 
DNR’s Natural Areas program manages 169,000 acres of conservation lands across 97 areas. Natural Area Preserves protect the best remaining examples of many ecological communities, including rare plant and animal habitat. Natural Resources Conservation Areas protect outstanding examples of native ecosystems, habitat for endangered, threatened and sensitive plants and animals, and scenic landscapes, while allowing for environmental education and low-impact public use where compatible with conservation.
 
These acquisitions are in addition to the 2,000 acres Commissioner Franz announced would be set aside for conservation in December, and are part of ongoing conservation efforts by DNR.
 
Funding for the acquisitions came from the Legislature, primarily through Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program Grants administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
 
KING COUNTY
Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area : This 600-acre acquisition provides crucial wildlife habitat in an urban area along the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Distinctive physical features include talus, high- and low-elevation lakes, numerous streams, wetlands, old-growth and mature forests, cliffs, and landscape connections for wildlife.
 
THURSTON COUNTY
Kennedy Creek Natural Area: This 5-acre acquisition will help further protect the Kennedy Creek riparian corridor, enhance protection of the Kennedy Creek Natural Area, and maintain and potentially expand the salmon education trail. The Kennedy Creek Natural Area is home to one of Washington’s few remaining high-quality marsh communities.   
                                                                                                     
Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve: This 39-acre acquisition will help conserve the habitat and expand opportunities for education about oak forests, wet prairies, and rare ecosystems.  Scientific research will also take place.
 
KITSAP COUNTY
Stavis Natural Resources Conservation Area: This 5-acre project will increase opportunities for low-impact public use, build awareness of the value of conservation, and potentially serve as a recreation access point for views of the Hood Canal and the Olympics.
 
JEFFERSON COUNTY
Dabob Bay Natural Area: A 780-acre addition to Dabob Bay Natural Area via the Trust Land Transfer process completed the transfer of former DNR-managed trust lands into permanent conservation inside the boundary of the natural area. The nearly 800 acres surrounding the bay will be managed to maintain and enhance the forest ecosystem while offering opportunities to develop public access to the conservation area in the future.
 
In addition to those 780 acres, DNR acquired 14 acres from a private landowner that protects shoreline and will be used as an environmental education classroom for high school and college students.
 
CLARK COUNTY
Washougal Oaks Natural Area: Two separate transactions grew the Washougal Oaks Natural Area this year. A 155-acre acquisition adds significant acreage to the natural area for oak forest protection and restoration. Adjacent road access to the site will offer a good location for classroom tours for high school and college students to learn about the ecosystem, as well as the practice of conservation land management and restoration.
 
A 38-acre addition to Washougal Oaks Natural Area helps conserve the habitat for rare plants. It offers an excellent location for research, restoration, and environmental education visits for high school and college classrooms.
 
Lacamas Prairie Natural Area: This 2-acre acquisition adds to the wet prairie ecosystem at Lacamas Prairie and buffers the sensitive wetland ecosystems from adjacent development. 
 
CHELAN COUNTY
Upper Dry Gulch: This 86-acre acquisition of a species-rich portion of the Upper Dry Gulch Natural Area Preserve adds significant rare plant habitat and potential educational access for schools and the public through interpretive displays.
 
To find photos of some of the 2023 land acquisitions, click here.
 
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MEDIA CONTACT
Courtney James
Communications Manager
Cell: 360-522-2534
courtney.james@dnr.wa.gov

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