Natural Areas

The Natural Areas of Washington State protect outstanding examples of the state’s extraordinary diversity. Natural Resources Conservation Areas (NRCA) and Natural Areas Preserves (NAP) are the two types of natural areas managed by the Department of Natural Resources. Both designations protect native plants, plant communities and animals, and both are used as outdoor classrooms for environmental education and scientific research. NAPs protect the highest quality native ecosystems and generally host more sensitive or rare species. More sensitive NAPs have limited, or guided, access to protect resources. NRCAs often include significant geologic features, archaeological resources or scenic attributes. NRCAs often have developed public access facilities.

Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve

The 1,733-acre Trout Lake NAP meets several important statewide conservation goals. The NAP is home to one of only four remaining populations of the Oregon spotted frog in Washington and is the second largest population in the state. The entire site, including the marsh habitat and adjacent forested uplands, is one of the highest quality mid-elevation wetland ecosystems in south-central Washington, providing vital habitat for hundreds of wildlife species.

White Salmon Oak Natural Conservation Area

This 315-acre site contains representatives of all of the Oregon white oak communities now found in the White Salmon River drainage. These communities, which are quickly disappearing from Washington, provide an important glimpse of the region’s pre-settlement landscape. Much of this landscape can be seen from the historic Weldon Wagon Trail which traverses the site. The trail provides exceptional opportunities for hiking and horseback riding.  From the trail, visitors can view the array of wildlife that occupies the site. It is an important wildlife habitat area, including winter range for black-tailed deer, year-round use by wild turkey, and summer breeding habitat for a diverse and abundant community of small mammals, birds and reptiles.