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Grant allows state to protect rare plants near Lacamas Lake

More than $5.48 million in state grants will support conservation and recreation projects in Clark County, including protecting and restoring habitat for rare plants northwest of Lacamas Lake.

The state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board announced Tuesday it has awarded more than $126 million to 333 projects across the state.

Clark County’s biggest grant, $3.42 million, is for the state Department of Natural Resources to purchase 315 acres within the Lacamas Prairie Natural Area, which is home to five sensitive plant species and one rare animal species.

A project description from the state Recreation and Conservation Office says the area is “threatened by habitat destruction in one of the state’s most rapidly urbanizing counties.”

Curt Pavola, DNR’s program manager for natural areas, said his agency currently owns 201 acres in the 1,622-acre area, which was established in 2007.

This is the fifth grant DNR has received from the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board to purchase land in the natural area, Pavola said. DNR wants to eventually acquire all land within this and the agency’s other 93 natural areas across the state, he said.

“Most of the sites have multiple acquisitions until we deem them completed, filled out to the boundaries,” he said.

The Lacamas Prairie Natural Area is different from most other areas because it borders residential neighborhoods to the south, with a small piece falling inside the Camas city limits.

The area includes one of the largest populations of Bradshaw’s lomatium, a federally protected plant with yellow flowers that survives in only a few locations in Oregon and Washington. Bradshaw’s lomatium, also known as Bradshaw’s desert parsley, was listed as endangered in September 1988.

The species’ range was believed to be largely confined to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, between Salem and Creswell, until two populations were discovered in Clark County in 1994.

The Lacamas Prairie Natural Area supports the second largest of the plant’s 20 known populations. A majority of Oregon Bradshaw’s lomatium plants are within a 10-mile radius around Eugene, Ore.

DNR also will receive a $160,000 grant to restore 88 acres of wet prairie and Oregon white oak woodland habitat in the Lacamas Prairie Natural Area. The project will control invasive weeds and encroaching woody vegetation, use prescribed burns and other techniques to improve habitat, and replant the area.

“We are expanding the habitat, and we are restoring the habitat where the plants can thrive in the future,” Pavola said.

DNR must first purchase the 315 acres. Pavola said the agency reached out to property owners prior to submitting its grant application, but he stopped short of saying it had willing sellers lined up.

“I would call them willing to entertain an offer,” he said.

Other projects that will receive conservation or recreation grants in Clark County include:

• City of Washougal: $350,000 to develop a third ball field at George Schmid Memorial Park. The project will include installing lighting for all three fields, building connecting walkways and providing bleachers, dugouts, bullpens and a scoreboard for the third field.

• King’s Way Christian Schools: $350,000 to convert two full-size grass soccer fields to synthetic turf.

• City of Washougal: $304,744 to purchase land and develop a park along the Washougal River. The city intends to build a construction-themed playground in recognition of the site’s previous use by George Schmid and Sons Construction Co.

• City of Vancouver: $235,415 to buy land to expand the mostly undeveloped George and Hazel Stein Neighborhood Park.

• Washington DNR: $174,00 to hire a full-time warden to patrol the Pacific Cascade Region, which includes the Yacolt Burn State Forest and other forested areas in Southwest Washington.

• Washington DNR: $150,000 to maintain non-motorized trails within the Pacific Cascade Region.

• Washington DNR: $100,000 to replace two non-motorized bridges on the Tarbell Trail System in the western part of the Yacolt Burn State Forest.

• City of La Center: $75,000 to install underground drainage and irrigation at two ball fields in 11-acre Holley Park.

• City of Washougal: $74,988 to purchase easements across two residential lots along the Washougal River to expand access to more than a half-mile of waterfront.

• Port of Camas-Washougal: $67,050 to design and develop construction plans for renovating the access ramp from Washougal Waterfront Park to the Breakwater Dock to make the dock accessible to wheelchair users. The project also will remove overhead power lines and install eight lighted electrical pedestals.

• Piston’s Wild Motorsports: $25,000 to purchase tools to maintain off-road vehicle trails in Southwest Washington.


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