Monday, March 20, 2023
March 20, 2023

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Washington seeking proposals to help wildlife impacted by wildfires


OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Conservation Commission and Washington State Department of Natural Resources are seeking project proposals to benefit wildlife affected by wildfire in eastern Washington.

“Washington’s shrub-steppe habitat, wildlife, and communities are facing many threats, so protecting and restoring remaining shrub-steppe habitat is more important than ever,” said Kelly Susewind, WDFW Director in the joint release. “We’re excited to be able to bring these opportunities to landowners and managers to benefit both wildlife and working lands.”

The release states, following historic fires in 2020 that burned 600,000 acres of shrub-steppe habitat in Washington, the Washington State Legislature made new funding available to benefit wildlife by restoring shrub-steppe habitat, implementing actions to help at-risk species and supporting working lands in eastern Washington.

The funding will be available for projects on private, tribal and public lands that will restore shrub-steppe and riparian habitats, rebuild needed fencing to wildlife-friendly standards and support habitat recovery by reimbursing producers for supplemental feed or pasture rental after a wildfire.

Funding and services will be prioritized, the release stated, on habitat damaged by the Pearl Hill, Whitney, and Cold Springs fires in 2020; Burbank, Bateman Road, Beezley, Chuweah Creek, and Whitehall Road fires in 2021; and Mohr, Nilles, and Vantage Highway fires in 2022.

Habitat restoration and wildlife-friendly fencing projects are welcome from all areas throughout the Columbia Plateau.

Proposal review will start on Feb. 20 and will continue on an ongoing basis until available resources are allocated, the release stated. Applicants should reach out to their conservation district or Washington Shrubsteppe Restoration and Resiliency Initiative coordinator as soon as possible. Initiative partners will notify applicants of their project acceptance status by the end of April 2023.

“Washington’s shrub-steppe provides critical habitat for iconic Western species like sage grouse, homes and livelihoods for many eastern Washingtonians, and vital hunting, gathering, and ceremonial lands for eastern Washington’s indigenous communities,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “Post-fire recovery is a critical need in Washington state, but it is particularly important in these communities affected most often and most critically by wildfire.”