The WDFW is looking to acquire the Centralia Mine as a 9,800 acre wildlife area. Reclamation efforts are still underway, but the area has huge potential for creating habitat for endangered and threatened species such as the Western Pond Turtle and Streaked Horned Lark. It would also be an amazing year-round destination for hiking.
Since the area is currently off limits to the general public, I reached out the WDFW for photos, and I'm honestly kind of shocked by how spectacular the old mine is. Miles of wide open prairie, rolling hills, forest and many lakes - it's the kind of large, accessible recreation area that lowland SW WA lacks. I asked the WDFW what their plans for recreation are, and though they are in the very early planning stages they hope to maintain a few roads for canoe/fishing access to the larger lakes and convert the rest to non-motorized trails. Just from Google Earth, this would mean dozens of miles of trails through remarkably varied terrain.
The WDFW is currently seeking public comments on the proposed land acquisition, which can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
Is the State accepting on-going liability for cleanup?
I'm not sure, but it doesn't look like it - I found this in a WDFW post from December:
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.
Update: They've extended the comment period to the 16th. The WDFW also clarified that areas marked in red on the map are not currently being considered for acquisition. Two of these are IPAT properties marked for future industrial development, which I'm dismayed to learn as that would be an eyesore. I understand though that including them in the acquisition proposal would probably scuttle the whole thing. My suggestion would be to encourage the WDFW to consider either a future acquisition project for these areas, or to plant adjacent land with thick coniferous forest to form a buffer zone.
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