The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation today announced that Walmart’s Acres for America program, the leading public-private land conservation partnership in the United States, has awarded $3.6 million in grants to conserve important landscapes for fish, wildlife and people across 70,300 acres in Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Washington and, for the first time, Iowa and Kansas. In Washington, $500,000 was awarded to Columbia Land Trust in support of our conservation efforts at Klickitat Canyon.
These funds from the Acres for America program, which is a partnership between Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, provide crucial support for the third and final phase of a 10,000-acre conservation vision, an endeavor the Land Trust has been working on since 2012. To date, the Land Trust has successfully conserved nearly 6,000 acres across the first two phases of its plan for Klickitat Canyon, with these funds supporting the conservation of the remaining 4,000 acres.
“Walmart’s leadership in helping communities protect some of our nation’s most awe-inspiring natural landscapes shows how much the company values conservation and demonstrates its commitment to the well-being of the communities it serves,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The Acres for America program has directly contributed to the permanent protection of nearly 1.5 million acres across the United States, an area comparable in size to Everglades National Park – a truly remarkable achievement.”
Back in May of this year, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) awarded the Land Trust a $3 million grant for the third and final phase of the Klickitat Canyon forest conservation area. WWRP, which was established by the state legislature in 1990 to invest in both outdoor recreation and preserve wildlife habitat throughout Washington, selected the project under its critical habitat category. WWRP requires private matching support, and the $500,000 Acres for America grant announced today will be critical in leveraging those funds.
The Klickitat River, which runs through the canyon, is home to salmon runs as well as some of the best steelhead habitat in Washington. The surrounding basalt cliffs, forests, grasslands, and oak stands provide vital habitat for golden eagles, peregrine falcons, mountain goats, black bear, otter, and at least 400 other species. Moreover, the canyon serves as a crucial migration corridor for elk and deer that travel between the river’s lowlands and upland feeding grounds on Mount Adams. With its steep slopes and varied topography, the region is well-suited to support wildlife as they adapt to a changing climate.
In addition to remarkable habitat, this 10,000-acre conservation effort will help ensure the river and surrounding lands serve as a recreation resource for paddlers, anglers, and hunters. The edge of the canyon offers car turn-offs featuring some of the most impressive vistas in the state. The conservation area includes a community forest and is also a place of deep cultural significance to the Yakama Nation. By conserving this stretch of the canyon, the Land Trust is adding to a network of connected tribal, state, and federal lands, helping to ensure that the region thrives and benefits wildlife and people for generations to come.
We at Columbia Land Trust are grateful to our Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife’s Acres for America Program, as well as to the additional public and foundation funders, and the generous individual donors who have played, and continue to play, integral roles for bringing this bold 10,000-acre conservation vision another step closer to fruition.