Protecting a busy wildlife corridor, one stretch of river at a time.
Red-breasted sapsucker. Photo by Stephen Cunliffe
The Duckabush Riparian Corridor is a band of forest running along the Duckabush River, connecting Hood Canal with the Olympic National Forest. Flowing freely over a long string of gravel bars, the river is home to one of the most important stocks of endangered summer chum salmon, as well as steelhead, fall chum, chinook, coho, pink, cutthroat and bull trout. The mature big-leaf maple, black cottonwood, grand fir and western redcedar trees lining the river’s edge provide safe passage and breeding habitat for harlequin ducks, elk, bear, bobcat, bald eagles, spotted owls and many other species that have moved up and down the watershed for thousands of years.
Jefferson Land Trust is working with many different partners to protect more and more stretches of the Dosewallips and Duckabush Rivers. We are doing this through a combination of conservation easements and outright purchase of habitat lands from private landowners.
Our work began on the Dosewallips River in 1994, when long-time residents Vern and Ida Bailey donated a conservation easement on their 187-acre working ranch and forestland, helping to protect scenic open space and wildlife habitat. The latest acquisitions in these watersheds have been on the Duckabush River. In 2015, we acquired 140 acres of riverbank and forest, conserving rich salmon spawning grounds and protecting the bulk of the remaining private riparian habitat on the south side of the mid-Duckabush River. This will allow the area to continue to grow into a complex mature forest, providing the woody debris, erosion control and shade that supports habitat needed for salmon recovery.
This recent acquisition was accomplished through a broad partnership that has also permanently preserved nearly 10,000 acres of timber production land in the Brinnon area, permanently protecting those lands from conversion and development. By working together to protect critical habitat and sustain large tracts of working forests, we are helping to sustain a healthy, productive and resilient undeveloped land base in these river valleys for future generations.