Arlandia’s mature forest has been cared for by the property owners for nearly five decades. Photo courtesy of Dave Rugh.
The Land Trust is pleased to announce that a recently completed conservation easement will forever protect Arlandia, a beautiful 28-acre forested property in the Tarboo Valley northeast of Quilcene. Arlandia contains a tributary to Tarboo Creek, and its mature native forest is abundant with healthy cedar, maple, alder, Douglas fir, and hemlock trees.
Dave explains how 2021’s winter storms led to trees falling across the ravine at Arlandia.
Property owners Dave Rugh and his late wife Ruthe have been active stewards of this special property since they purchased the first 20 acres of what is now Arlandia 44 years ago.
“Dave and Ruthe thoughtfully managed the habitat values of this forest for a long time,” said Sarah Spaeth, the Land Trust’s Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships. “They approached the Land Trust with the idea of putting a conservation easement on the land because they really love Arlandia, and they wanted to make sure that its mature, beautiful forest stayed intact.”
Richard Tucker, Executive Director of the Land Trust, said, “Arlandia is a special piece of land: you can tell it’s been loved. It was inspiring to work with Dave and Ruthe, and this easement is a culmination of decades of their hard work and commitment to this land.”
The name ‘Arlandia’ seemed to come about naturally: Dave explained, “The romantic name ‘Arlandia’ comes from my youth, when I lived in a place called Landour, in the Himalayas. So I flipped it around: Our-Land-ia. Arlandia.”
Forest at Arlandia. Photo courtesy of Dave Rugh.
Eventually, Dave and Ruthe purchased two additional adjoining parcels, built a house, and moved to Arlandia full-time. The thick forest was recovering from earlier clearcuts, and by thinning the thick rebound, the Rughs improved forest health, using the felled trees for building woodsheds and firewood. Among many other projects, Dave constructed a broad loop trail that leads down into the property’s most dramatic feature: the steep-walled ravine. The creek flowing through this ravine is a tributary that feeds into Tarboo Creek, and eventually into Hood Canal.
Walking the ravine trail with Dave this month, his deep understanding of the land is clear. He points out cuts in old stumps where loggers once stuck the springboards which they stood on while felling, layers of glacial deposit in the creek walls, and a mossy spot where maidenhair, deer, licorice, and sword ferns all grow together.
The creek at Arlandia. Photo courtesy of Dave Rugh.
He also describes the changes he’s seen there over four decades: the creek bed eroding; trees growing splendidly and some falling, changing the density of the forest and the openness of the overstory; the effects of hotter summers and more extreme storms on the soil and vegetation.
“Forty-four years ago, when I first walked in this ravine, those trees were younger, and it was brushier,” he says, pointing to the east side of the ravine. “You couldn’t see the contours of that ridge. And now it’s wide open. Tree crowns are way up there. It’s been a dramatic change.”
A naturalist and wildlife biologist, Dave has volunteered with the Land Trust in many roles over many years, including as Preserve Steward for our Donovan Creek Preserves, co-chair of the Land Trust’s Natural History Society, and co-lead of our popular Tidelands to Timberline Natural History Course.
“We’ve been very lucky to have Dave so involved with the Land Trust for so long,” said Sarah. “He’s a wonderful naturalist. He also knows Arlandia like the back of his hand and has an incredible wealth of not only love and appreciation for it, but also data that he’s collected over the years.”
Christmas Eve, 2007, at Arlandia. Photo courtesy of Dave Rugh.
Given his background in scientific research and his personal connection with Arlandia, it perhaps shouldn’t be surprising that Dave’s seven-page-long written history of the property includes precise accounts of regional geology; climate history, via data on temperature and precipitation; and local culture, beginning with the nine Twana village communities that lived along Hood Canal before their displacement in 1855.
The history also includes a logging synopsis and a detailed timeline of Arlandia events from 1859 to the present day, such as milestones in construction of the house, outbuildings, trails, pond, and other infrastructure; surveying, permitting, and inspections; notable visits, including a honeymoon; and extreme weather conditions, such as deep snow, dry summers, and heavy rain.
A different view of Arlandia. Both the firewood and the woodshed itself are harvested from trees felled on the property with forest health and longevity in mind. Photo courtesy of Dave Rugh.
There’s also interesting personal data, like the amount of hours Dave has invested in Arlandia (10,500 hours on construction) and the number of lucky visitors (442 total as of February 2022). Counted among this number are Land Trust staff members Sarah Spaeth, Erik Kingfisher, and Blaise Sullivan, who, the log notes, walked the property on February 1, 2021, to discuss conservation easement plans for Arlandia.
A grant from the County Conservation Futures Fund allowed the Land Trust to cover most of the costs of placing an easement on the property. Dave and Ruthe donated a generous stewardship contribution that helps the Land Trust monitor and enforce the easement for all time.
In addition to its mature forest and habitat values, Arlandia’s protection fits into the Land Trust’s long-term focus on protecting land and water in the Tarboo Bay and Dabob Bay area.
“Dabob Bay and Tarboo Bay are some of the most pristine estuarine habitats in all of the Hood Canal watershed,” Sarah said. Having a healthy stream and estuary is critical for supporting a rich diversity of fish and wildlife and protecting the water quality in the north Hood Canal.
Arlandia building envelope boundary determined by the Land Trust.
Our protection efforts in this area have been strengthened by many partnerships with local landowners and organizations. The Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI) has focused on this area for many years and owns and manages key properties around the bay, including the Tarboo Wildlife Preserve, that are protected by Land Trust easements. With the help of funding from the US Navy and others, Jefferson Land Trust has protected more than 1,200 acres of land here through dozens of conservation easements on private properties — including, as of December 29, 2021, Arlandia.
“I’ve grown to love this property,” Dave said, “and I love knowing that with this easement, this land will be legally protected, and can’t be clearcut, subdivided, or developed. It’s a good feeling, knowing that this property I’ve come to know has this protection in perpetuity.”