We all know how important conservation and public lands are for our larger outdoor recreation industry. Sure, you obviously need vast public lands to go backcountry hunting or embark on a six day camping trip. But these lands also play a huge part for fish conservation and watershed health. I think we all understand that trout fishing in the West would be a lot different if there were housing developments and industrial factories along some of the West’s remote rivers. That’s a big part of why protecting and conserving these remaining wild places is so important. Washington state is looking to add to its collection of public lands with some potential new additions.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is now soliciting public input on new land acquisition proposals for 2022. WDFW has a long history of using land acquisition to “conserve and restore the diversity of Washington’s fish and wildlife species and their habitats,” and “Provide access for sustainable fishing, hunting, and other wildlife-related recreational opportunities, which generate billions of dollars of tourism and are key to the state’s quality of life.” For example an acquisition in 2021, secured 7 acres on the banks of Grande Ronde River for public access, camping, and a boat launch.
This year’s acquisition proposals include 15 projects throughout the state. Here are a couple that stood out for us.
- One project would conserve and protect 260 acres of habitat surrounding a tributary of the Klickitat River.
- The WDFW Hoffstadt Hills project is to acquire up to 7,300 acres adjacent to the Hoffstadt Unit of the Mt. St. Helens Wildlife Area and Mt. St. Helens National Monument, which would improve key steelhead and coho habitats.
- Another project would acquire 90 shoreline acres along the Columbia River that have the potential for salmonid restoration.
- Finally, there is another project to expand acreage to a access point on the Grande Ronde River.
So, if you’re a Washington angler or know the region well, take a look and share any input with the Department. Who knows, your input today could translate into a new boat launch next year or improved riparian habitat for the future.