The Vancouver, Washington-based Columbia Land Trust has acquired some 560 acres near the mouth of the Columbia River that will become permanently protected riverside habitat for fish and wildlife. The new acreage adds to what Glenn Lamb, the organization’s executive director, as “a tapestry of critical habitat now encompassing more than 5,300 acres.”
The land trust and Bonneville Power Administration acquired the 560 acres to protect salmon, steelhead and other wildlife that depend on the estuary. In addition to being a rearing area for juvenile fish, the estuary is a feeding ground for black bear, elk and river otter.
The newly protected land consists of three areas, all on the Washington side of the Columbia River: 117 acres at the mouth of the Wallicut River, just outside of Ilwaco, Washington; 378 acres at Knappton Cove, opposite Astoria, Oregon; and 65 acres of floodplain, tidelands and uplands at the mouth of the Deep River, where it empties into Grays Bay.
Columbia Land Trust purchased the properties with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
The groups purchased the acreage as habitat to help offset the impacts of federal hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake river systems, as outlined by a biological opinion from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“We have stepped up our efforts to protect and restore estuary habitat as science has demonstrated how important the estuary is to juvenile fish,” Lorri Bodi said in an announcement of the habitat purchase. She is Bonneville Power’s vice president of environment, fish and wildlife. “Good estuary habitat is like a head-start program for salmon about to head out to the ocean.”