Ore. ranch bought to provide Columbia fish habitat

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- An Oregon ranch along the lower Columbia River that was diked decades ago for raising cattle has been purchased to provide wetlands for endangered juvenile salmon and steelhead on their way downriver to the ocean.

A conservation group, the Columbia Land Trust, is buying the 920-acre Columbia Stock Ranch near St. Helens with $5.3 million from the Bonneville Power Administration.

The parties said in a statement Tuesday the purchase is the largest acquisition of riverside habitat in the estuary in nearly 40 years and is aimed at mitigating the impact on fish stocks of federal dams in the Columbia Basin.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is to develop a plan to restore hundreds of acres of wetlands at the site between Portland and Longview, Wash.