Nicholson beach

Nicholson Beach on Omak Lake is slated to get a boat launch.

OLYMPIA - Several groups in Okanogan and Ferry counties are receiving grants from the state Recreation and Conservation Board to build and maintain outdoor recreation facilities, and conserve wildlife and working farms and forests.

The board announced $126 million in competitive grants for 333 projects statewide.

“The funding creates more places to play, expands habitat for fish and other wildlife, supports clean air and water, and upholds healthy communities across Washington state and improves our quality of life,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office.

Grants were awarded through seven different grant programs. Revenue comes from a mix of federal grants, the sale of state bonds, gas taxes and user fees.

Projects in Ferry County will receive more than $1.8 million. In Okanogan County the board approved $3.03 million worth of projects.

Ferry County projects

-Colville Confederated Tribes, $640,875 for building the Keller Ferry Boat Launch.

The tribe’s Park and Recreation Program will use the money build a boat launch on the San Poil arm of the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Anglers and boaters in Ferry County now have to ride the ferry to the Lincoln County side of Lake Roosevelt to use the National Park Service’s boat launch.

The tribe will build the launch on 91 acres of undeveloped tribal land. The launch area will include an access road, boat trailer parking, a ramp, skid docks and restrooms. The tribe will contribute $213,625.

-Ferry County, $376,000 to complete surfacing the Ferry County Rail Trail.

The money will go to complete surfacing 25-mile trail. The county will surface 8.94 miles of trail from the Kiwanis Trailhead northeast of Curlew Lake to Lundimo Meadows Road south Curlew. Improvements include installation of a toilet, kiosk and signs.

Ferry County will contribute $45,000 in donations of cash, equipment, labor and materials.

-Ferry County, $108,900 to develop Hesse Recreation Park.

The county plans to develop the park off Highway 21 near Republic School District and the Golden Tiger Pathway. Park components will include a pump track with an outer flat track, grass lawn, covered pavilion, fencing, storage facility, electricity and a waterline for irrigation.

Future improvements would include campgrounds, restrooms, showers, mountain bike trails and a sledding hill.

The proposed project would provide reliable recreation opportunities while supporting economic stability and promoting healthy alternatives for the youth of Ferry County. Ferry County will contribute $12,100 in donations of labor and materials.

-Okanogan Land Trust, $215,775 for preserving Miller 4-Bravo farmland and ranch.

The trust will use the monty to buy a 371-acre, voluntary, land preservation agreement for land owned by Daniel Miller with 4-Bravo Ranch. Made up of irrigated farmland and pasture, along with aspen and dry mixed conifer forest, the project will protect productive farm and ranchland that supports hay farming and livestock ranching.

The area, located near state Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Forest Service land, will ease expanded opportunities for cattle ranching and wildlife movement. The land includes a section of Curlew Creek, a fish-bearing creek with stream bank habitat near Curlew and Highway 21.

The land sees increased pressure for industrial or residential development, according to the project description. Okanogan Land Trust will contribute $215,775 in donations of cash and land interest.

-Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, $460,000 for burning and thinning the Sherman Creek Forest.

The department will use the money to prepare a plan and burn about 1,000 acres in the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area, and remove some of the trees to thin the forest when weather prevents the fire implementation.

The department has thinned more than 4,000 acres of the forest since 2008, with the intention of burning another 3,300 with prescribed fire. To date 800 acres have been burned.

Burning and thinning will restore and protect ecological processes and improve forest health for white-headed woodpeckers, pygmy nuthatches, pileated woodpeckers, white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose and other wildlife. The work also will enhance recreational opportunities such as hunting and wildlife viewing, said the department.

Okanogan County projects

-Colville Confederated Tribes, $93,750 for designing a boat launch at Nicholson Beach (also known locally as Beer Can Beach).

The tribe will use the money to design and permit a boat launch at the undeveloped Nicholson Beach at the north end of Omak Lake. There is only one other boat launch on the 3,200-acre lake, but it is unusable and is being removed.

Omak Lake has almost no surrounding development. It’s a popular destination for fishing, boating, waterskiing and more. The tribe will contribute $31,250.

-Methow Conservancy, $427,319 to preserve Twisp farmland.

The money will go to buy 2,180 acres to protect shrub-steppe, stream bank and wetland habitat; conserve mule deer and at-risk species, and maintain seasonal wildlife corridors while allowing private landowners to continue to farm the land. Without easement protection, landowners likely would subdivide and sell their lands for residential development, said the project description.

Methow Conservancy will contribute more than $2 million in donation of land and a federal grant.

-Okanogan Land Trust, $729,363 for conserving rangeland.

The trust will use the money to buy a voluntary land preservation agreement for 2,691 acres of the Ellis Barnes Livestock Co.’s rangeland to restrict future development. The land includes wetlands that provide habitat for waterfowl, cavity-nesting ducks and Chinook salmon.

The Barnes family began assembling the ranch in 1924 and incorporated it in 1929, making it one of the oldest in Okanogan County, said the description. The family-owned cow-calf operation is one of a handful still operating in the northern Okanogan Valley and contributes significantly to the local agricultural economy.

Okanogan Land Trust will contribute $729,364 in a federal appropriation and donations of cash.

-U.S. Forest Service, $63,404 to care for the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.

The Methow Valley Ranger District in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest will use the grant to continue to replace equipment and maintain the trail in the Pasayten Wilderness. Work will include clearing trail, repairing trail surfaces, controlling erosion and repairing trail sections damaged by fire.

In 2009, Congress designated the Pacific Northwest Trail as a national scenic trail. The Methow Valley Ranger District maintains 85 miles of the trail. Remote crews, supported by pack stock and using traditional wilderness tools, do most of the work.

The Forest Service will contribute $145,380 in equipment, staff labor, and donations of cash and labor.

-U.S. Forest Service, $111,747 for developing North Summit Horse Camp.

Methow Valley Ranger District will use the money to complete the second phase of North Summit Horse Camp development on Loup Loup Pass between the Okanogan and Methow valleys.

The project would include adding six pull-through campsites (six are already developed), toilet facilities, picnic shelter, water for stock, cow fencing, manure bunkers and graveling. The finished campground would be one of two equine-focused campgrounds and picnic areas in the area with facilities to accommodate horses.

According to the project description, the pass is popular with riders of all ages and abilities because it provides access to moderate riding terrain at an elevation that melts out earlier than the higher country. Visitors to the campground would help to bolster the local economy.

The ranger district will contribute $48,135 in donations of cash, equipment, labor and staff labor.

-U.S. Forest Service, $95,674 for educating climbers in the Methow Valley.

The Methow Valley Ranger District will use the money to fund two climbing rangers and two volunteer climbing rangers who would educate climbers about environmental stewardship, determine educational needs, collect use and resource data, identify environmental impacts, enforce regulations, and continue to build relationships in the community and with climbing organizations.

The district has more than 400 published climbing routes at 64 different areas. The popularity of climbing continues to grow, and two recently published guidebooks draw people from all over the world. Climbers account for 22,000 visitor use days in a single season, said the description.

Forest Service will contribute $95,888 in a federal appropriation, equipment, staff labor, materials and donations of labor.

-U.S. Forest Service, $150,000 for maintaining Methow Valley campgrounds.

Methow Valley Ranger District plans to use the money to fund four seasonal employees and expenses for seven volunteer campground hosts to clean and maintain 23 campgrounds spread across the district. The employees and volunteers will maintain all campground facilities, roads, pathways, picnic tables, fire grates, water systems, signs, dumpsters and outhouses.

The grant also will pay to monitor noxious weeds, remove hazardous trees, enforce regulations, and buy cleaning supplies, maintenance tools and materials, and toilet paper. The Forest Service will contribute $224,783 in a federal appropriation and donations of labor.

-U.S. Forest Service, $140,000 for maintaining trails in the northern Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Tonasket Ranger District will use the money to maintain multiple-use trails in its and the nearby Methow Valley Ranger District. Trails provide opportunities for motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.

Duties would include clearing and repairing trails and bridges, updating signs and implementing minor trail reroutes. The project will help address deferred maintenance and ensure continued public access, said the description.

The ranger district will contribute $62,610 in a federal appropriation, plus donations of labor.

-U.S. Forest Service, $149,984 for maintaining trails in the Methow Valley Ranger District.

Methow Valley Ranger District will use the grant to fund a full-time, four-person trail crew to maintain trails in the Pasayten Wilderness, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, North Cascades Scenic Highway corridor, and surrounding backcountry areas for two years.

Work will include taking out downed trees, repairing trail tread, addressing areas of standing water and other maintenance. Primary recreation opportunities include hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. The ranger district will contribute $150,980 in equipment, staff labor and donations of labor.

-U.S. Forest Service, $198,938 for patrolling the Methow Valley and Tonasket ranger districts.

The money will fund three seasonal rangers, two interns and community volunteers to educate visitors about leaving the area the way they found it and to enforce regulations. Patrols will travel by foot or stock and focus on popular areas in the North Cascades Scenic Corridor, Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth wilderness areas, and the Pacific Crest Trail.

Guidebooks and articles have popularized the area, which attracts more than 125,000 visitor use days annually. Recreationists include hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, climbers, photographers, wildlife viewers, backcountry skiers, stock users, hunters and anglers.

The Forest Service will contribute $216,359 in a federal appropriation, equipment, staff labor, materials and donations of labor.

-Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, $223,000 for renovating the Blue Lake (near Wannacut) access site.

The department will use the grant to renovate the Blue Lake water access site about five miles southwest of Oroville. The department will renovate the hand-launch area and parking, build pathways, and install a fishing platform, toilet, signs, barrier rocks and wood fences.

-Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, $92,400 for restoring Scotch Creek to improve grouse habitat.

The money would go to restore a half-mile of Scotch Creek in the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area to improve habitat for sharp-tailed grouse. The Columbian sharp-tailed grouse is listed by the state as a species threatened species, and exists in only seven isolated and small populations in Washington, including the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area, said the department.

Grouse eat water birch in the winter and the department wants to establish birch along the creek. The department will install beaver dam analogs to raise the water table and allow the creek to meander and collect sediment into the creek’s incised channel.

The overall goal is to make that segment of the creek healthier, increase capacity of the creek and wetland to store water for drought protection, and improve water quality, habitat and habitat-forming processes. In the second year of the grant, the department will plant the creek banks. Raising the water table will allow stream bank plants and trees to survive, said the department.

-Winthrop, $488,000 for buying a rolling hillside east of town for trails.

The town plans to buy 139 acres of hillside to fulfilling a goal of protecting undeveloped land and ensuring public access to a network of walking trails across a shrub-steppe hillside.

The landowner wanted to sell the property for development of up to 275 homes. With the threat of a sale looming, the Methow Conservancy purchased the land until Winthrop could get funding to buy it for a public park. Following acquisition, Winthrop will work in partnership with the Methow Conservancy and Methow Trails to develop access, parking and a network of walking trails on the land.

As a park near neighborhoods, the land will provide opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy walking, photography, wildlife watching, scenic views of the North Cascade Mountains, and education on shrub-steppe habitat. The land also provides valuable mule deer winter range, said the proposal.

Winthrop will contribute $326,900 in a private grant and donations of cash and property interest.

Multiple counties

-Washington Trails Association, $75,000 for enhancing volunteer stewardship to maintain trails statewide, including in Okanogan County. The association will contribute $568,980 in donations of cash and labor.

-Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, $37,500 to maintain eastern Washington trails with volunteer support. Ferry and Okanogan counties are included. The alliance will contribute $196,000 in a private grant and donations of labor.

-Washington Trails Association, $75,000 to engage youth in volunteer stewardship statewide. Okanogan is among the target counties. The association will contribute $498,190 in cash and labor.

-Northwest Motorcycle Association, $60,557 to care for multi-use trails statewide. Okanogan County is among the target counties. The association will contribute $54,600 in cash and labor.

-Northwest Motorcycle Association, $198,754 for maintaining motorcycle trails around the state. Okanogan County is among the target counties. The association will contribute $53,934 in cash and labor.

-Pacific Northwest Trail Association, $75,000 for maintaining the Pacific Northwest Trail statewide. Ferry and Okanogan counties are among the target counties. The association will contribute $150,000 in staff labor and donated labor.

-Back Country Horsemen of Washington, $45,435 for maintaining Olympic Peninsula Recreation opportunities. Okanogan is among the target counties. The group will contribute $190,709 in donations of cash, equipment, labor and materials.

-Back Country Horsemen of Washington, $51,245 for restoring trails damaged by wildfires, flooding and wind storms. Okanogan County is among the target areas. The group will contribute $300,000 in donations of labor.

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