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News / Clark County News

Washington DNR preserves more land in Clark County, protecting rare plant species

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: December 27, 2023, 2:56pm

As the year ends, Washington officials are heralding the state’s efforts to conserve its natural habitats, including segments of Clark County’s forests and wetlands.

In 2023, the state Department of Natural Resources made two land transactions totaling 193 acres in the Washougal Oaks Natural Area, one of the largest remaining Oregon white oak woodlands in Western Washington. A stream weaves through oak-covered hillsides, wildlife habitat and meadows of rare plants. Acquisitions were combined with an existing preserve.

An additional 2-acre transfer provided a buffer for wetlands at the Lacamas Prairie Natural Area from future developments. This preserve contains one of the largest populations of Bradshaw’s desert parsley, an endangered perennial herb, and five other rare plant species.

Both natural areas are used for research, guided tours and educational activities.

“Each of these land acquisitions is a crucial step forward in preserving and protecting our environment, and they provide a great opportunity for Washingtonians to learn more about the lands around us,” Hilary Franz, commissioner of Public Lands, said in a news release. “This is a win for our environment, a win for the public, and a win for Washington state.”

Altogether, the Washington Department of Natural Resources made 10 land transfers for conservation spanning 1,726 acres from the Olympic Peninsula to the Columbia River Gorge. Funding for these acquisitions came from grants administered through the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office.

The Department of Natural Resources Natural Areas program manages 169,000 acres to protect rare plants and wildlife habitat in 97 different areas.

Acquisitions made in 2023 are part of the state’s ongoing efforts to conserve natural habitat.

Franz announced in mid-December that the Department of Natural Resources will conserve an additional 2,000 acres of forest in Clallam, Jefferson, King, Snohomish and Whatcom counties.

The agency is also set to purchase 9,000 acres of forests in Wahkiakum County — its largest acquisition in a decade — to prevent Washington from losing its forestland to development.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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Columbian staff writer