Oaks beneath basalt columns at Klicktat Canyon. Photo by Brian Chambers Photography
Conserving our single largest site to date in a canyon rich with wildlife and cultural significance.

We talk about Washington’s Klickitat River a lot. That’s because there aren’t many places with intact forests, unfettered rivers charging with salmon and steelhead, and more than 200 species of wildlife in the Northwest that still exist within one watershed.

This summer, Columbia Land Trust conserved its single largest, fully-owned site to date—3,200 acres in Klickitat Canyon. The stretch of habitat was purchased from the Hancock Timber Resource Group. This effort completes the second phase of the Klickitat Canyon project and brings its conservation total to approximately 6,000 acres of a broader 10,000-acre goal.

In the northern reaches of Klickitat country and at the site, sun-baked basalt cliffs and talus slopes are augmented by a base of winding white oak, ponderosa pine, and dry grasslands.

The land connects a key wildlife corridor between low elevation habitat to the east and high elevation habitat on the Yakama Indian Reservation and Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

“The Klickitat Canyon is important because it provides high-quality habitat on two levels,” said Land Trust Conservation Lead Nate Ulrich. “It hosts transitional pine and oak woodlands at the site scale, and open connectivity between summer and winter range at the landscape scale.”

The lands and waters also provide respite for recreationists, economy through forestry, and are deeply intertwined with the history, culture, and lives of the Yakama people.

Forest Biologist Mark Nuetzmann with the Yakama Nation Wildlife, Range, & Vegetation Resource Management Program says threatened northern spotted owl use the site, goshawk nests have been observed along the river, and peregrine falcons nest in the soaring rock.

While this project has culminated with great success, it had to overcome significant hurdles along the way that required creative problem solving. We are grateful to all the project funders for their patience and persistence in saving an irreplaceable ecosystem.

The Land Trust has sights on completing the third and final phase of conservation in the Klickitat Canyon in 2019. The timeless river, forests, people, and wildlife of the canyon will always remain at the core of this work.

Thanks to our funders including: Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, The Nature Conservancy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, The Conservation Alliance, private donations made by generous individuals and lending by Craft3.