A nationally-renowned nonprofit conservation group announced Wednesday it has purchased a 1,567-acre ranch, just west of Tenino city limits, that will eventually be managed as part of the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area.
The transaction is a notable step for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which will look to establish the Violet Prairie Wildlife Area unit out of the land, according to a news release.
“Beautiful and ecologically-rich ranchlands like this one face high threats of development,” said Gates Watson, northwest director of The Conservation Fund, the Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit that’s purchasing the land. “Our purchase of the property helps eliminate that threat, while buying time for WDFW to secure the funding needed for its ultimate protection of the land.
“We’re thrilled to be aiding in this effort and are excited for the opportunities the future wildlife area unit will bring to the community,” he continued.
The Conservation Fund will work with WDFW and hold the Violet Prairie property until adequate funding is available for the state purchase, long-term management and protection of this property.
In the short term, the property will remain closed. Eventually, the Violet Prairie Wildlife Area will open to recreationalists under state management and will feature opportunities such as hiking, hunting and wildlife viewing.
Larry Phillips, coastal region director at WDFW, said his agency is fortunate to partner with The Conservation Fund on the project and also thanked Thurston County, the city of Tenino and the Thurston Economic Development Council for collaboration and support.
Protection and preservation of the property is a high priority for the state, Phillips said.
“Its makeup of Puget lowland prairies, wet prairie-oak woodlands, riparian areas, and conifer forests provides habitat for various wildlife, including the federally endangered Mazama pocket gopher,” read the news release.
The partners say they’re appreciative of Dr. William Barnett, the former landowner, for his commitment to keeping his land conserved.
"I would like to thank Troy Dana of Fay Ranches for his extraordinary effort working with The Conservation Fund and many others to get this done. I am pleased we were able to preserve this unique property for generations to come,” Barnett said in a statement.
Fay Ranches' dedication to conservation for nearly 30 years guided efforts to conserve land as agricultural ground as well as quality fish and wildlife habitat coast to coast.
“This was a great outcome for both The Conservation Fund and Dr. Barnett,” said Troy Dana, Fay Ranches principal broker of Washington.