Pheasants Forever donates land in Whitman County, benefiting equestrians, bird watchers, hunters
Equestrians, waterfowl hunters and bird watchers received a gift last week.
The Puget Sound chapter of Pheasants Forever will donate 94 acres of land to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in September. On Friday, the WDFW commission approved the donation.
The land, south of Lamont and near Rock Creek, will connect WDFW’s 2,291 Revere Wildlife Area in Whitman County with the 14,000-acre Bureau of Land Management Escure Ranch.
“Pheasants Forever does a really good job of actually giving back and putting habitat on the ground,” said Joey McCanna, WDFW’s regional private lands supervisor in the St. John area. “It’s really a win-win for the public.”
Paul Lubbesmeyer, the acquisition chair for the Puget Sound chapter, said a number of Seattle-area bird hunters love that area and wanted to see it preserved. The parcel will be purchased for $84,000.
“We being a bunch of pheasant hunters from the west side, that is one of our favorite counties to hunt,” he said.
The connection will give bird hunters, hikers and horseback riders easier access to Escure Ranch and will allow for longer hiking and riding adventures.
“There is not that much public land in Washington compared to most of the other western states,” said Doug Koenig, co-president of the Spokane-area chapter of Pheasants Forever. “So any little bit helps.”
About 40 percent of Washington land is publicly owned.
In addition to the recreational opportunities, the land donation will allow WDFW staff to start restoring native grasslands to the property. The previous owner of the property had irrigated alfalfa and briefly grazed cattle, McCanna said.
Improving the habitat on that parcel will help “spread the upland game birds out” from the Escure Ranch, McCanna said.
Habitat restoration will start with tilling most of the 94 acres, said Juli Anderson, WDFW’s wildlife access manager in the area.
Once the ground is tilled, WDFW will start removing weeds and will eventually plant native grasses. After the native grasses take hold, Anderson said the agency will begin introducing shrubs.
The restoration will take several years and cost about $40,000.
It’s possible some edible crops will be planted on the property with the help of Pheasants Forever.
If Pheasants Forever hadn’t agreed to buy the land, it could have been lost to public access.
The previous owner of the land approached WDFW in 2013 hoping to sell. WDFW was unable to purchase the parcel then, McCanna said. That’s when Pheasants Forever stepped in.
The Revere Property was acquired by WDFW in 1992 to make up for habitat lost to inundation from dams. The Revere parcel already supports mule deer, coyotes, badgers, a variety of raptors, upland game birds including pheasants and quail, and other wildlife species.