Finding common ground and working together to restore salmon habitat.
Snow Creek and Salmon Creek flow from the foothills of the Olympic Mountains down to the head of Discovery Bay. Here they form the Snow and Salmon Creek Estuary – one of the most intact estuaries of its kind on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal, and the stronghold of the area’s endangered summer chum salmon.
These waters and shorelines provide a wealth of habitat for summer chum, steelhead, coho, Puget Sound chinook, white sturgeon, three species of forage fish, and Olympic oysters and other shellfish. Shorebirds and waterfowl, including trumpeter swans and bald and golden eagles, feed on salmon carcasses along the creeks in the intertidal areas.
Over 500 acres of scenic estuary, wetland, creek, and buffer habitat have been protected in the Snow and Salmon Creek watersheds, from the head of the bay all the way to Crocker Lake and the foothills above the valley, including some adjoining farmland and forests.
Together, Jefferson Land Trust and our Chumsortium project partners have acquired nearly 180 acres from willing landowners. Six-and-a-half acres of this is the Snow and Salmon Creek Estuary Preserve, a critical part of Snow Creek and surrounding habitat and uplands that we purchased in 2011.
The Preserve is part of an ongoing restoration effort led by the North Olympic Salmon Coalition. Restoration work has been very complex in this area, balancing the interests of many different groups and undertaken in cooperation with landowners, Chumsortium partners, permitting agencies, Washington State Department of Transportation, Jefferson County, and private contractors. It has included removing several dilapidated structures, an old abandoned railroad grade and moving a residential waterline.
The Chumsortium partnership has worked particularly hard to protect and restore the habitat corridors running along Snow and Salmon Creeks. Some landowners and project partners have grown up in this area and their children are now involved in restoration projects, too. We are proud to see a new generation of conservationists getting their hands dirty to give fish and wildlife a healthier and more climate-resilient corridor.