Expanding the Chehalis Wildlife Area among six proposed land acquisitions

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is asking for public feedback on six land acquisition proposals, including potential new area in Grays Harbor, that would help promote fish and wildlife conservation and public access.  

Locally the land would expand the Chehalis Wildlife Area by up to 1,504 acres, with ⅔ of the proposed project to incorporate a greater portion of river shoreline and wetlands outside Elma previously approved in 2016.

Other land acquisition proposals include acquiring 9,600 acres of the Centralia Mine property owned by TransAlta in Thurston and Lewis counties to provide public access for recreation and benefit fish and wildlife conservation. 

Also listed is a plan connecting two adjacent wildlife area units in Douglas County to provide shrubsteppe habitat connectivity and recreation opportunities, as well as ensuring public boating and fishing access to the Grande Ronde River in Asotin County.

Acquiring the Ebsen Water Access in Asotin County would ensure continued public boating and fishing access to this portion of the Grande Ronde River.

Descriptions of proposed land acquisition projects are available on the department’s land acquisition webpage.

“We want to hear from people in this early stage of our land acquisition process,” said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW lands division manager. “Our mission is to protect land and water for people and wildlife in Washington, and this is one tool we use to determine which properties will best meet our conservation goals and recreational priorities.”

The department will accept written comments through Feb. 5, 2021. 

People who would like to submit comments can send them by email to [email protected] or mail them to: Real Estate Services, PO Box 43158, Olympia, WA 98504.

After reviewing public comments, WDFW will finalize a list of projects to seek funding sources. 

Since the department does not use operating budget funds for land acquisitions, the department relies on state and federal grants to purchase properties.

The department owns or manages more than one million acres statewide, with 33 wildlife areas and over 500 water access areas around the state. These public lands help sustain wildlife habitat and public recreation opportunities for current and future generations.

WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email ([email protected]). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.