Opportunity for new wildlife area in Lewis and Thurston counties

Proposed acquisition of TransAlta Centralia Mine Property would benefit fish and wildlife conservation and provide public access for recreation

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is interested in acquiring 9,600 acres of the Centralia Mine property owned by TransAlta in Thurston and Lewis counties. With access to forest lands becoming much more limited in recent years, WDFW believes this land acquisition would benefit public access, recreational opportunities, and the local economy. Because reclamation work is still in process, the property would be opened to the public in phases.

The proposed acquisition also includes approximately 200 acres owned by the Industrial Park at TransAlta (IPAT) that lies fully within the mine property’s footprint.

The Centralia mine property has diverse habitats that support a variety of fish and wildlife species, including elk, deer, salmon, amphibians, and waterfowl.

Proposed acquisition concept

TransAlta is considering donating approximately 6,500 acres to WDFW. The department would then pursue grant funding to acquire the remaining 3,100 acres in the future. The IPAT governing board also expressed a willingness to consider an offer from WDFW on one of their parcels, provided the department can secure grant funds.

WDFW owns or manages more than a million acres of land and hundreds of water access areas throughout the state and is well suited to manage the site long term. WDFW routinely works with community partners and tribes to plan, fund, and implement land management activities to support habitat enhancement and recreation projects.

“The acquisition of this property by WDFW aligns with TransAlta’s commitment to sustainability,” said Mickey Dreher, President of TransAlta USA. “We believe a long-term wildlife area is the best use of this property and would greatly benefit the community now and into the future.”

View of Mount Rainier from road on TransAlta property.

Property description

Active mining at the Centralia Mine ended in November 2006. Since then, reclamation efforts have been under way with some areas now reaching or nearing full reclamation. Further work on other parts of the property will take several more years and TransAlta is committed to completing reclamation to meet all standards prescribed by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, including habitat improvements requested by WDFW.

Elk herd in a field in the northern section of TransAlta property.

The resulting landscape will be as good as or better than it was before mining. It will include a diverse mix of habitats including forests, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and grasslands that will continue to improve with appropriate land management.

The current habitat supports a variety of fish and wildlife including elk, deer, salmon, warmwater fish, and many others. This is a rare opportunity to manage a landscape that allows room for creation or restoration of high-quality wildlife habitats such as wetlands and grasslands to benefit waterfowl, amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and fish.

Some portions of the property have the potential to provide habitat for threatened or endangered species, including the western pond turtle, Oregon spotted frog, and streaked horned lark. In fact, a specific site on the property is one of the best opportunities in Washington to create suitable conditions for the western pond turtle.

Contact

Brian Calkins
Coastal (Region 6) Wildlife Program Manager
360–249–1222

Sandra Jonker
Southwest (Region 5) Wildlife Program Manager
360-931-3248

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.