Habitat supporting fish and wildlife along the Klickitat River Canyon in Yakima County will forever be preserved, due in large part to generous support from SDS Lumber Company and Columbia Land Trust.
SDS Lumber Company and Columbia Land Trust recently announced that 4,900 acres would be added to the Klickitat Canyon Conservation Area. The recently conserved land, which the Columbia Land Trust has described as “the largest land conservation success through acquisition in the nonprofit’s 30-year history,” completes the nearly 11,000-acre Klickitat Canyon Conservation area.
“This is an unparalleled opportunity to protect valuable forest land that provides critical fish and wildlife habitat and historical and cultural value,” said Jason Spadaro, SDS Lumber CEO. “We are excited to help make the vision of the Klickitat Canyon Conservation Area possible; it shows how working together and partnerships can create a legacy that present and future generations will enjoy.”
The 4,900 acres is the final step of a multi-phase effort and the culmination of 12 years of planning, research, fundraising, and partnership, Columbia Land Trust officials touted.
According to a Columbia Land Trust announcement:
“The forested canyon and surrounding area are the ancestral lands of the Yakama people—a rugged and scenic landscape of great ecological and cultural significance. The vision for conserving Klickitat Canyon was developed with support from the Yakama Nation.
The conservation area brings together a culturally diverse group of stakeholders and benefits forest health, fire and climate resilience, jobs and economic opportunity, and exceptional wildlife habitat.
Conserving these lands maintains crucial connectivity for ecosystems and wildlife, bridging the Yakama Indian Reservation, a national forest, a state natural area, and a state fish and wildlife area. The varied landscape, which includes pine forest, oak woodlands, basalt cliffs, and grasslands, provides critical habitat for wildlife such as mule deer, black bear, golden eagle, flammulated owl, and even meandering mountain goats.”
And according to Phil Rigdon, Yakama Nation Natural Resources superintendent:
“The Klickitat River is Washington State’s longest wild river, a third of which lies within the Yakama Nation reservation. It is an essential artery that supports our culture and way of life. We support and depend on partners and owners like Columbia Land Trust that strive for good stewardship. It is important to share the understanding of the importance of enhancing and protecting these significant aquatic and ecological places because a watershed like the Klickitat is the last of its kind.”
The Klickitat Canyon Conservation Area includes a 7.8-mile stretch along the upper two-thirds of the Klickitat River into conservation. The river supports “one of the strongest wild steelhead runs, and one of the only remaining bull trout runs in the lower Columbia River system” and the Klickitat River watershed is home to rare plant species and both federally and state-listed species of concern.
“Through conservation, the Land Trust is ensuring that the Klickitat, the longest free-flowing tributary to the Columbia River in the state, will run through a protected landscape, giving wildlife room to roam and people access to wilderness,” said Cherie Kearney, Forest Conservation Director for Columbia Land Trust.
The project also was made possible with support from the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy programs.