Channeled Scablands and Columbia Basin (WA)
In recent years, the Washington State Conservation Partnership has placed emphasis on using the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) under the Farm Bill to conserve and restore key wetland habitats in the Channeled Scablands and Columbia Basin. Three standard grants involving 17 partners have been approved to protect and restore over 3,000 acres of wetland and associated upland (riparian, grassland, sage-steppe and dry forest) habitats. A Phase 4 proposal will be submitted in 2012. In addition, the Partnership is assisting the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in “ramping up” the use of WRP in protecting and restoring this priority habitat in the Channeled Scablands Focus Area. Work is also underway to gain approval of a “Reserved Grazing Rights” Pilot Program under WRP within the Channeled Scablands Focus Area.
The Partnership stimulated interest among State and Federal agencies to leverage funds and staff resources directly on increasing field capacity for habitat conservation in eastern Washington. In 2011, two new cost-shared positions were approved specifically to work with landowners in conserving priority habitats in eastern Washington through Farm Bill, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Washington Migratory Bird Stamp and other existing conservation programs. Another new position, focused on conserving sage-steppe habitat, was created to help implement the NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative with assistance from the IWJV and its partners. Other innovative concepts are being developed by the Partnership to use existing programs to address high priority habitat conservation needs on the working ranch and public lands of eastern Washington.