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WDFW proposes Teanaway acquisition

By Nicole Klauss
The Daily Record
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing acquiring an additional 215 acres in the Teanaway that is adjacent to the Teanaway Community Forest.

 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing acquiring an additional 215 acres in the Teanaway that is adjacent to the Teanaway Community Forest, and is seeking feedback on the proposal.

The acquisition is part of a Fish and Wildlife plan for 10 proposed acquisitions that would take place during 2017-19.

Fish and Wildlife regional director Mike Livingston declined to say how much the acquisition in the Teanaway would cost to protect the privacy of the landowner, but said the information would be released if a deal was completed.

Fish and Wildlife is looking at the property because of its conservation and recreation values. The land protects the main stem of the Teanaway River and two fish bearing tributaries. Its makeup is floodplain, mature conifer forest, wetlands and meadow habitat. It’s home to animals listed on the Endangered Species Act including the northern spotted owl, gray wolves, bull trout and steelhead (spawning and rearing). It also would be used recreationally for hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.

“From a fisheries management standpoint, it’s fantastic for floodplain restoration work, and its location lower down in valley provides great connectivity for recreational access,” Livingston said.

Community Forest

If the acquisition went through, the long-term goal is to add the 215 acres to the Teanaway Community Forest, Livingston said.

The 50,000-acre Teanaway Community Forest was purchased in 2013 as part of a 30-year, $5 billion project to stabilize water supplies and improve fish habitat in the Yakima River Basin.

If Fish and Wildlife gets funding for the acquisition, the department would then have to work with the Department of Natural Resources on a sale or transfer of land to be able to include it in the Teanaway Community Forest.

“We’ll have work in the near future looking for funding sources for the acquisition,” Livingston said. “Then the next one (step) if we’re successful in finding the funds and purchasing it is for a dialogue about management of it.”

Management

If the land was purchased, it would be jointly managed by Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources, similar to the way the Teanaway Community Forest is managed, Livingston said.

The Teanaway Community Forest struggled last session to get the money it needed to support its management plan, and has not been able to hire a full-time employee to implement the plan.

Last year the agencies asked for approximately $2 million in operations funding, but received less than 15 percent of the request. Due to the limited 2015-2017 funding, the agencies have not been able to undertake high priority actions, and day-to-day efforts in the Teanaway are primarily focused on health and safety issues.

Both agencies are returning to the Legislature this year with a request in the supplemental budget for short-term funding of $471,000. The departments had not appeared before the Legislature with this request as of Tuesday, but are expected to present the request soon, Livingston said.

While funding would be a concern for these 215 acres, Livingston said grant opportunities would be looked at to aid with management and restoration work.

“From a habitat restoration perspective and a recreational opportunity we’d be seeking grant funds to do some of the projects,” Livingston said.

Public comments

The acquisition is part of Fish and Wildlife’s list of new land acquisition during 2017-2019.

Other proposed acquisitions include land in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Snohomish, Klickitat, Thurston, Lincoln and Walla Walla counties. To view the proposals, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/acquisitions/.

The review process is designed to solicit public input on the proposals before the department seeks funding sources later this year, said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW land conservation and restoration section manager, in the news release.

After reviewing public comment, WDFW will seek potential funding from state and federal grants administered by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund and the North American Wetland Conservation Act.

Written comments on the proposed acquisition may be submitted through Feb. 12 via email to Lands@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Lauri Vigue, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

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