New Habitat Benefits Wildlife in Western WA

From the 2019 November/December issue of the Ducks Unlimited Magazine - Pacific Flyway section

Ducks Unlimited Western Region Director Mark Biddlecomb (fourth from left) helps cut a ceremonial ribbon celebrating the purchase of 1100 acres in Washington state for habitat.

Ducks Unlimited, in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), recently finalized the purchase of 1,100 acres near Westport, Washington, in Grays Harbor County. The WDFW will manage the new property as an addition to the Elk River Unit of Johns River Wildlife Area for the benefit of wildlife and people. A second phase of the project, which includes the purchase of 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 year-round, including several species of waterfowl, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, and black bears. The site will also provide 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, but plans to improve access are ongoing.

“This purchase wouldn’t have been possible without the strong support of Ducks Unlimited,” says Larry Phillips, coastal regional director with the WDFW. “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. Ducks Unlimited and the WDFW secured funding last year for the first phase, encompassing 1,100 acres. Partners have secured additional funding for the remaining 600 acres through a grant application to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

“The new addition to the Elk River Unit is one of those truly special properties,” says Greg Green, DU 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 played a major supporting role for the WDFW in this effort, and we look forward to future restoration and public-use planning.