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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


May 07, 1999
Contact: Madonna Luers, (509) 456-4073

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Watchable wildlife project plans to be unveiled May 20 at new Sprague Lake public access site

The pelicans, herons, gulls, and other wetlands wildlife at Sprague Lake, just off Interstate 90 west of Spokane, will be more than a roadside attraction when a new public-private cooperative project for the popular fishing lake unfolds.

Project plans, starting with the acquisition of 580 acres of wetlands and 300 acres of shoreline on the southwest end of the lake, will be unveiled May 20 at the same time a new Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) water access site is dedicated. The gathering of public officials and private individuals and groups, including fishers and bird-watchers, is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the new access site, about six miles southwest of Sprague.

Project supporters propose development of a walking trail around the lake, including boardwalk portions for disabled access, wildlife interpretive signs and kiosks, and observation blinds and overlooks. The combination of fishing and watchable wildlife access to the largest lake and wetland in Lincoln and Adams counties could draw greater numbers of cross-state travelers to Sprague, infusing the rural economy with new tourism dollars. The project also demonstrates that agriculture and wildlife habitat protection and enjoyment can co-exist.

The project is supported by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Big Bend Resource and Conservation Development Council, Adams and Lincoln County Conservation Districts, Adams and Lincoln County Commissions, the town of Sprague and its Chamber of Commerce, the Hercules Ranch, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, local fishing clubs, and local Audubon and Ducks Unlimited chapters.

Two recent developments have jump-started project plans.

WDFW recently acquired the 40-acre water access site from Hercules Ranch, allowing public access to Sprague Lake. The lake presently has three private access sites provided by Hercules and resorts. WDFW used funds from its Warmwater Fish Enhancement Program and a grant from the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. Sprague's fishery includes trout, bass, walleye and catfish.

NRCS recently arranged a 30-year conservation easement from Hercules Ranch for the lake's 580-acre wetlands, to temporarily protect them and the myriad of bird and other wildlife species that use them for breeding, nesting, and rearing of young. NRCS' conservation easement is funded through the National Wetlands Reserve Program.

WDFW is seeking to secure the wetlands in perpetuity through direct acquisition, pending available funds through Washington's Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA). The account's funds are derived from state tideland leases. Future development of the trail and other amenities could come through matching dollars from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

Details of project plans will be available and statements from project supporters will be made at the announcement and dedication event May 20.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Fishing enthusiasts will launch boats when the ribbon is cut on the access ramp and birdwatchers will be scoping out the area's abundant and very vocal, visible birds. DIRECTIONS: To reach the site from the east, take the I-90 exit at Sprague and follow the Sprague Lake signs through town to the west; at the road split, stay left on Max Harder Road about six miles, across the Lincoln-Adams county line to the access road with sign on right; from the west, take the I-90 Tokio exit (east of Ritzville) and follow Danekas Road east about seven miles to the access. (It's Danekas Road in Adams County, Max Harder Road in Lincoln County.)