OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the purchase of 165 acres of key fish and wildlife habitat in Okanogan County today during a conference call meeting.
Purchasing the land, located along the Okanogan River about 20 miles north of Omak, will allow the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to protect spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead, and grassland and shrub steppe beneficial to wildlife.
The property will become part of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, managed by WDFW to provide habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species as well as public access for outdoor recreation, such as fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.
The commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, originally was scheduled to take action on the department’s proposal to acquire the land during its regular meeting earlier in the month.
However, the commission re-scheduled final consideration of the purchase for additional review of the appraised value of the land, staff discussions with local officials, operation and maintenance costs, and weed control.
The $795,000 purchase price will be funded with grants from the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The commission approved the purchase by a unanimous vote, with Commissioner Jay Kehne, of Omak, abstaining.
For more information about the commission, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.