SPOKANE—Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials will participate in a public meeting here April 27 to discuss a proposal for future protection of fish and wildlife habitat in the Bonnie Lake area.
The meeting is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m., at District 3 Fire Station 39, 8811 West Cheney-Plaza Road, near Cheney.
Bonnie Lake is southwest of Plaza Road in Spokane County, northwest of Malden. WDFW has identified the watershed as critical habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife, due to its diversity of riparian, wetland, shrub-steppe and pine forest habitats.
WDFW recently submitted a preliminary grant proposal for future protection of the Bonnie Lake area to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) of the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO). The proposal is to protect wildlife habitat by acquiring property from willing sellers or through conservation easements, in which land remains in private ownership and owners are paid to leave land unchanged.
Kevin Robinette, WDFW’s eastern regional wildlife program manager, said final grant proposals are not due until next month. Grant proposals undergo rigorous review and ranking among statewide proposals. The 2011 Legislature determines funding levels.
“At this time we are simply trying to measure landowner interest in possible future easements or acquisitions,” Robinette said. “We do not have grant money in hand to purchase property or conservation easements from willing sellers, but we need to determine if there are landowners who want to work with us in the future.”
Robinette said WDFW’s contacts with landowners are intended simply to indicate the state’s interest in buying property, if owners are interested in selling their land.
“By policy, we only purchase land from willing sellers,” Robinette said.
Robinette said the Bonnie Lake area has high fish and wildlife habitat value because most current landowners have taken good care of the land.
“Our state-mandated mission is sound stewardship of fish and wildlife,” he said. “If the ownership and stewardship of this area changed, fish and wildlife habitat could be impaired. Our interest is in the long-term conservation of this area as habitat for wildlife that may be enjoyed by future generations.”
The habitat acquisition proposal is supported by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Inland Northwest Land Trust, Spokane Audubon, Ducks Unlimited, Spokane Mountaineers, Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club, Backcountry Horsemen, Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and Eastern Washington University.