A River Gets its Wings - Columbia Land Trust
Columbia Land Trust conserves 360 acres in Klickitat Canyon, including a mile-long stretch of river.

Columbia Land Trust is ending 2018 on a high note, conserving two properties—totaling 360 acres—that serve as ‘wings’ of crucial wildlife habitat to the 3,200 acres of forestland we permanently protected earlier this year.

By purchasing these two properties from SDS Lumber Company, one of which includes nearly a mile of river frontage, the Land Trust has helped complete a contiguous 28-mile corridor of conserved lands along the Klickitat River. This includes lands owned by the Land Trust, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Yakama Nation, and U.S. government lands. Today, nearly the entire middle third of the river is conserved (the upper third is conserved by Yakama Nation and the U.S. Forest Service).

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For 20 years, we’ve invested heavily in the Klickitat because it represents one of Washington’s most intact and functional river systems, hosting vital runs of salmon and steelhead. Together, the river and the surrounding lands of the Klickitat Canyon form a migration corridor from the rolling hills of the lower river and upland eastern slopes of Mount Adams and are home to 29 federal and state-listed wildlife species and species of concern. The ‘wings’ properties consist of pine-and-fir forest, oak woodlands, dramatic canyon cliffs, talus slopes, and grasslands, supporting wildlife from mountain goats to golden eagles.

“This conservation success really ties together pieces of the landscape that provide habitat connectivity on a massive scale, and it protects a stronghold for migrating salmon and steelhead,” said Nate Ulrich, East Cascades conservation lead for the Land Trust.

These properties also protect land of cultural importance to the Yakama Nation, while also ensuring continued public access to a viewpoint along Glenwood Highway that provides a stunning view of the canyon and Mount Adams. Moreover, the Land Trust’s conservation efforts today will support economic opportunities for forest management on the properties, as well as for angling and paddle sports on the river.

“The Klickitat River is a special place within our ownership. It has always been important to us, our community, and our neighbors,” said Jason Spadaro, president of SDS Lumber Company. “We’ve seen that Columbia Land Trust is an organization that not only believes in long-term conservation but also in responsible management to maintain healthy, fire-resilient forests. We’re happy to work with Columbia Land Trust to put these lands under their long-term conservation objective so we can focus on lands elsewhere that better fit our objective of sustainable forest management. This transaction is a win for the community, conservation, forestry, and economic stability.”

To date, the Land Trust has conserved nearly 6,000 acres along this reach of Klickitat Canyon, including 2,400 acres of community forest. Looking forward to 2019 and 2020, the Land Trust will work to permanently conserve 3,900 additional acres upriver in the canyon, completing its nearly 10,000-acre forest conservation vision for Klickitat Canyon.

This success was only possible through a strong partnership with SDS Lumber Company, who entrusted us with the care of this special place. It was also made possible through funding from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board as well as from a generous individual donor, and through the collective support of people like you for our conservation agenda.