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

June 18, 1999
Contact: Margaret Ainscough, (360) 902-2408 or Tim Waters, (360) 902-2262

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Conservation group to buy Whidbey Game Farm

WHIDBEY ISLAND– The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is selling the Whidbey Island Game Farm to a conservation education group.

The Michigan-based Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies has agreed to buy the former Whidbey Island Game Farm for $700,000.

The site–175 acres of native prairie land–will be acquired by the Institute with the goal of working with conservation groups to restore and protect one of only two remaining remnant glacial outwash prairies and to provide an opportunity to teach restoration ecology on Whidbey Island.

"We are extremely pleased that Au Sable is stepping forward to purchase this land," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings. "It is especially gratifying to know that individuals and conservation groups from all over the country interested in pursuing environmental studies will benefit from this transaction."

"I am also pleased that this allows us to work with local partners to continue to operate and enhance pheasant holding facilities in the area. A portion of the land sale proceeds will be set aside for that purpose," Koenings added.

The game farm, which ceased operation as a pheasant-rearing facility in 1997, was among several surplus properties sold by WDFW to make up a department fund shortfall which developed last year. Altogether, over $2 million worth of properties with low value to native fish and wildlife were sold.

Community interest in preserving the property in its natural state led to legislative action this year directing WDFW to attempt to sell the property to a non-profit group or municipality that would preserve the property as open space.

The game farm site is located about two miles east of Coupeville, and lies within the boundaries of Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve.

WDFW also will continue raising pheasants at the Lewis County Game Farm near Centralia.