Mitigation credits to offset impacts to
Oregon white oak priority habitats
Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) is Washington’s only native oak species and provides valuable habitat to numerous wildlife species. A decline in the abundance of Oregon white oak woodlands in Washington has led to the protection of these habitats under Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) designation, which is regulated by Washington State counties under the Growth Management Act through Critical Area Ordinances. Oregon white oak mitigation credits will be available starting in 2021 to offset development impacts and comply with local permits for development projects in the Lower Columbia.
Enhancing rare Oregon white oak habitats
Oregon white oak habitats within Wapato Valley Bank, including mixed woodlands, balds, and savanna, will be enhanced, preserved, and established to reinvigorate and restore healthy oak woodland habitats. Existing woodland habitats will be enhanced through thinning to achieve a stem density that increases sunlight to each tree. Thinning will be done in such a way to promote some stand diversity while maintaining an oak component of the forest to meet the WDFW PHS definition for Oregon white oak woodlands. As a result, habitat structure will support native oak/prairie understory species and will increase acorn mast production to provide high quality priority habitat. Areas of preservation will ensure that human disturbance remains at a minimum, and that upland habitat corridors can continue to provide food and shelter for wildlife that benefit from or depend on oak systems. Additional acreage of prairie/oak savanna habitat will be created through sparse Oregon white oak seedling plantings in restored native grasslands and prairies.