U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo A sand verbena moth is photographed at Deception Pass State Park. The park is one of few places where the rare moth lives.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo A sand verbena moth is photographed at Deception Pass State Park. The park is one of few places where the rare moth lives.

State grants will protect prairies, moths on island

This week the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board announced the award of 342 grants statewide.

State grants will fund projects to protect an imperiled moth and an endangered plant on Whidbey Island.

In addition, Island County may get additional moorage buoys in the waters surrounding the island as well as improved trails.

This week the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board announced the award of 342 grants across the state to conserve wildlife habitat, provide and improve recreational opportunities and protect working forests and farms.

The grants total more than $164 million and are matched by $221 million from applicants in cash, staff times and equipment.

The grants will fund work in all 39 counties, although projects in Island County received among the least. A Recreation and Conservation Office spokesperson said that’s likely just due to a lack of applications.

A total of $181,000 has been designated for State Parks to restore the habitat of the sand verbena moth.

The species lives in only 11 locations in North America, two if which are Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey and Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend.

The 1.5-inch moths live in sand dune habitats with a lot of yellow sand-verbena, a plant that grows in succulent mats, needs saltwater to survive and attracts sand into its body to make it hard for herbivores to eat.

The Recreation and Conservation Office reports that the moth populations are harmed by an increase in exotic plants and, potentially, trampling of sand-verbena.

“Trails through the restoration area will give the public an excellent opportunity to observe rare native species and communities and keep them from trampling the plants,” the Recreation and Conservation Office reported in a press release.

In addition, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Whidbey Camano Land Trust received a $56,000 grant to restore rare coastal prairies in Central Whidbey that are two of 12 wild areas in the world where golden paintbrush grow.

The species is listed as endangered by both the federal government and the state.

The grant will be used to remove invasive and non-native species on two acres in separate portions of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

The prairies will then be reseeded and planted with golden paintbrush and other natural prairie plants.

Also, State Parks will receive $291,000 to assess long-term needs for moorage buoys in northwestern Puget Sound, including the waters surrounding Island and San Juan counties.

Current moorage buoys will be inspected and the need for more buoys will be assessed.

The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board granted hundreds of thousands of dollars for multiple trail maintenance programs that traverse a number of counties, including Island County in some cases.

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