Westport, WA – The project to add 1,100 acres of land to benefit wildlife and recreationists near Westport has finalized thanks to a partnership between the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited.
In a release, WDFW reports that they have recently finalized the purchase of 1,100 acres of land near Westport and plan to manage the new property as an addition to the Elk River Unit of the Johns River Wildlife Area.
The new property acquired features freshwater and saltwater wetland areas, as well as forestland featuring old-growth Sitka spruce.
This land is inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including several species of waterfowl, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, and black bears.
WDFW says that the site will provide recreation opportunities, including hiking, birding, and big-game and waterfowl hunting and public access will initially be on a walk-in basis as plans to improve access move forward.
“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 intent to buy a total of 1,750 acres. This first phase featured funding to purchase the 1,100 acres last year
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.
“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.”
Additional funding has been secured for the remaining 600 acres through a grant application to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
The second phase the purchase is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.