Ducks Unlimited, in a close partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), recently finalized the purchase of 1,100 acres of land near Westport in Grays Harbor County. WDFW will manage the new property as an addition to the Elk River Unit of the Johns River Wildlife Area for the benefit of wildlife and people. A second phase to purchase an additional 600 acres is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
The new property features diverse natural resources, including large freshwater and saltwater wetland areas and old-growth Sitka spruce trees. A variety of wildlife use the area for year-round habitat, including several species of waterfowl, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, and black bears
The site will also provide additional recreation opportunities, including hiking, birding, and big-game and waterfowl hunting. Public access will initially be on a walk-in basis from the perimeter of the property, as plans to improve access are ongoing.
“This purchase wouldn’t have been possible without the strong support of Ducks Unlimited,” said Larry Phillips, WDFW’s coastal regional director. “We are excited to explore potential opportunities for habitat restoration on this property that would further benefit waterfowl and other wildlife.”
The process to purchase the property began three years ago with the intention to buy a total of 1,750 acres. Ducks Unlimited and WDFW secured funding for the first phase to purchase 1,100 acres last year. Partners have secured additional funding for the remaining 600 acres through a grant application to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The finalized transaction for the second phase of the purchase is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
“The new addition to the Elk River Unit is one of those truly special properties,” said Greg Green, Ducks Unlimited manager of conservation programs. “The opportunity to purchase and protect a large property near the coast with such ecological and recreational diversity is unique. Ducks Unlimited is pleased to have provided a major supporting role for WDFW on this effort, and we look forward to future restoration and public use planning.”
WDFW purchased the property with about $1.5 million from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant Program and $500,000 from the Washington Coastal Restoration Initiative, which the Washington State Department of Ecology administers. Ducks Unlimited also provided in-kind matching funds to coordinate negotiations and closing.
WDFW manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 600 water access sites across the state that provide fish and wildlife habitat, as well as fishing, hunting, wildlife-viewing, and other outdoor activities for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors every year.
Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl with the intent to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. Ducks Unlimited has worked for over 30 years in the state of Washington, completing more than 300 on-the-ground projects and spending more than $73 million.
WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.