The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Max Erikson
Reporter 

WDFW works on property plan

 

February 21, 2018

In collaboration with the Central Klickitat Conservation District (CKCD), the East Klickitat Conservation District (EKCD), the Yakama Nation, and other community members and organizations, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is in the final stages of completing a comprised Property Management Plan (PMP) that will be used as the blueprint to service WDFW's newly acquired land in the east Simcoes. The land will be used for cattle grazing, conservation efforts, recreational purposes, and will be open for public use.

A meeting on Friday Feb. 23 at 11 a.m. at the Klickitat PUD will be the next step to finalizing the PMP. The meeting is open to the public, and suggestions on what the final PMP should contain is welcomed.

"We want input from the community to share their views on our management plan," WDFW Land Manager Sue Van Lueven says. "We have involvement from local boards, citizens, members of the conservation districts, and representatives from the Yakama Nation, all giving input into the planning process."

CKCD representative Loren Meagher sees the benefit of having such a large pool of people and agencies involved in the PMP who have shared their expertise in each of the proposed management areas.

"Each agency, as well as the individual landowners, has contributed knowledge and expertise that has added to the quality and thoroughness of the PMP being developed," Meagher says. "Now we are working on the final draft report from each working group under the PMP. This will be the last meeting before it is finalized."

Since 2014 WDFW has purchased approximately 18,000 acres of land from Western Pacific Timber (WPT). The land is located 28 miles east of Goldendale-out Bickleton Highway off Box Springs Road-in the area near Box Canyon, between Rock Creek and Dairy Creek, and south of the Yakama Reservation. It is near Game Management Unit (GMU) 382, and the land was acquired with the community in mind.

"We hope this recreation area will increase economic viability to the county," Van Lueven says. "We will also manage critical grazing and timber areas and open the land up to both fishing and hunting."

The idea to purchase the land came about when the CKCD was wanting to do water quality monitoring in the upper Rock Creek in 2012. WPT had been trying to sell the land in the Rock Creek area and suggested that the CKCD purchase it. CKCD was interested in buying the land but was not able to secure the grant funding for the acquisition.

The proposal was then presented to the WDFW who did have secured funds from a previous watershed project that fell through. The WDFW was able to move those funds from the initial cancelled project to be use for the acquisition of lands from WTP in 2014. WDFW continued more land acquisitions from WTP through 2017 and is currently trying to get funds for further land acquisitions in 2018.

In 2016 the CKCD, EKCD, and WDFW signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)-a non-binding agreement-to work together on the PMP for the Simcoe unit. That management plan will be finalized in the next few weeks, and at that time will be presented to the public. The management plan focuses on five areas that maintain the property and keep it viable in the coming years.

The areas that the PMP focuses on are:

• Forestry

• Range and Cattle Grazing

• Wildlife and Habitat

• Recreation

• Hydrology

• Cultural Resources

• Infrastructure

The recreation area of the PMP will be used to monitor the impact recreational use has on water quality, vegetation, wildlife and fish populations, and will support and maintain appropriate recreational activities. The area will be open to hunting, fishing, trail hiking, and horseback riding. Motorized vehicles will be prohibited.

The cultural resources area ensures that the PMP conforms to all applicable state and federal laws pertaining to the cultural artifacts, the discovery of human remains, and will conform to the policies that are approved by the Department of Historic Preservation. The Yakama Nation has a long cultural history in the area and protections of Native American artifacts and vegetation considered medicinal by the Yakama Nation are in the language of the PMP.

Infrastructure will cover the maintenance of roadways, signs, and fencing for the property, and provide inventory for what is needed. The health of the forest and the impact of cattle grazing will also be monitored.

"The goal of this project is to conserve natural resources and wildlife habitat and to show that conservation efforts can go hand in hand with social and economic benefits," Meagher says. "It also makes more land available for public use and will help preserve the ecological function of the property."

 

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