Habitat along creek gains protection

The Blue Mountain Land Trust bought development rights for 132 acres along Patit Creek.

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DAYTON - Aided by a grant, a local conservation group has been able to permanently protect streamside habitat near here.

Nearly two miles of both sides of South Patit Creek outside Dayton is now protected as the result of a conservation easement held by Blue Mountain Land Trust. A grant from the Washington Salmon Recovery Board funded the purchase of development rights on the property, said Tom Reilly, BMLT executive director.

In a release, Reilly said that besides the riparian zone along the creek, the easement encompasses 132 acres and protects high-quality wildlife habitat, a timber stand and open grasslands. The property supports dozens of wildlife species due to the landowners participating in a CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) on part of the acreage, Reilly said.

A riparian restoration project jointly sponsored by the landowners, the land trust and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation was planted last fall to provide streamside shade and improve fish habitat on the property.

"This is a beautiful piece of property on both sides of South Patit Creek, an important steelhead spawning and rearing stream. The landowners are committed to restoring native vegetation and maintaining the high quality fish and wildlife habitat. At the same time they have the opportunity to produce agricultural products off of the land. This acquisition is a win-win-win, for the landowners, the public and the resource" Reilly said.

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