Commissioner Goldmark opens 36th National Natural Areas Conference and signs expansion of state Natural Area
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Commissioner Goldmark opens 36th National Natural Areas Conference and signs expansion of state Natural Area 
 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                                                                                                         
September 15, 2009
 
Commissioner Goldmark opens 36th National Natural Areas Conference and signs expansion of state Natural Area
Adds 1,500 acres to Klickitat Canyon Natural Resources Area

OLYMPIA – Today, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark opened the National Natural Areas Association 36th Annual Conference in Vancouver, Washington, by signing a 1,500-acre expansion of Klickitat Canyon Natural Area, the majority of which lies in Yakima County.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which manages the state Natural Areas, is hosting the three-day conference focused on “Living on the Edge: Why Natural Areas Matter.” In addition to speakers from across the nation, eight international presenters are contributing research and work from Laos, India, South Africa, Australia, Belgium and Canada. The roughly 260 diverse attendees include conservation biologists and ecologists, geologists, business professionals, teachers, foresters and social scientists.

Goldmark spoke to the crowd, “If any group understands why Natural Areas matter, it is this room. These valuable Natural Areas provide safe harbors for species on the edge of extinction, and act as bank accounts of genetic diversity that help hedge against a cataclysmic die-off of plant and animal populations.”

Klickitat Canyon Natural Resources Conservation Area 
Goldmark signed the Commissioner’s Order on stage, alongside Cherie Kearney of the Columbia Land Trust—the Vancouver-based conservation partner for the Klickitat Canyon Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) expansion. Goldmark recognized the Columbia Land Trust, which has worked with DNR on several projects for natural area protection and also the conservation of working forest landscapes.

He added, “Working with local partners like the Columbia Land Trust is essential to successfully protecting critical habitat and significant natural features, such as Klickitat Canyon NRCA.”

The expansion potentially adds another 1,500 acres to the nearly 500 acres currently in conservation. The site originally was established for its geologic and scenic qualities: the dramatic canyon with the Klickitat River below. However, recent analysis has revealed other important ecological features, such as several rare plant species and habitat for the state-endangered sandhill crane. Ponderosa pines dominate the forests of this area, and the site is home to a variety of wildlife species including black bear, bobcat, deer, bald eagles and an assortment of other birds.

From grand scale to smaller ecosystems  
Nationally, the decision was made to protect some of the great landscapes of our country. This has resulted in the protection of biodiversity on a large scale. Places like the Olympic National Park contain some of the best examples of the ecosystems that once were plentiful across the country. And likewise, on a smaller scale, many of the state natural area systems harbor animals and plants that could be lost without protection. 

Washington’s Natural Areas Program
Since 1972, when Washington’s Natural Area Preserve Act was passed, DNR has developed a diverse system of 82 natural areas composed of 130,000 acres across the state. These natural areas represent some of the best examples of natural Washington — from the arid reaches of Upper Dry Gulch, the mysterious Mima Mounds, and willow marsh of Little Pend Oreille, to the shores of Shipwreck Point and the dramatic rock faces of Table Mountain.

Media Contact: Jane Chavey, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1721, jane.chavey@dnr.wa.gov  

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