Kingfishers’ Bluff on Dabob Bay
Dabob Bay is one of the least developed and biologically important saltmarsh estuaries remaining in Puget Sound, and a partnership that includes DNR, Northwest Watershed Institute, Jefferson Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy of Washington, and willing local landowners, continues to make progress on shoreline conservation here.
This December, renowned nature photographer Keith Lazelle and his wife and artist agent Jane Hall realized their vision for the long-term protection of their 18 acres of shoreline property on Dabob Bay. They sold two undeveloped parcels, one on each side of their house, to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be permanently protected as part of the Dabob Bay Natural Area. Then they sold a conservation easement–the “Kingfishers’ Bluff” easement– covering the 6-acre property on which they live to Jefferson Land Trust at a bargain price.
Lazelle and Hall continue to own the middle 6-acre parcel with their house on it, but the conservation easement requires leaving most of the property in a natural condition.
The 18 acres includes steep forested bluffs on the east side of Dabob Bay, and flat land on top of the bluff with beautiful older forests of Douglas fir, salal and evergreen huckleberry. The forest supports a rare orchid called a Phantom orchid and the bluffs are considered “feeder bluffs” that deliver sand and gravel to the beaches that migrates north with tidal currents and maintains the numerous saltmarsh spits of Dabob Bay.
The property is also a hot spot for bald eagles that come into the area by the dozens in the spring to feed at low tides and roost along the bluffs. “Last spring I counted over 100 eagles feeding in the tide flats and in the trees” said Lazelle.
“We bought the two lots on either side of our house site 20 years ago when they were about to be sold for clearcutting” said Jane Hall. “Now, it’s a dream come true to be able to see this forest permanently protected.”
Funding for the acquisitions came from federal grants. Lazelle and Hall also donated to the project by selling the conservation easement for significantly under its appraised fair market value. The DNR acquisitions were made possible by a grant from the NOAA Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) for Dabob Bay acquisitions. Dabob Bay was ranked number 1 in the nation for two consecutive years for CELCP grants, with a total $6 million in funding secured by DNR in 2011 and 2012—an indication of the importance and value of this area on a national level.
The conservation easement was funded from a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant, awarded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the Washington Department of Ecology and managed by Northwest Watershed Institute, who worked with Jefferson Land Trust to complete this project.
“Lazelle’s nature photography reflects the same heart and inspiration, honoring the natural world, that goes into the work of Jefferson Land Trust, and now we are thrilled to help Keith and Jane realize their dream of protecting the rich habitat of Dabob Bay they call home” said Sarah Spaeth, Jefferson Land Trust Executive Director.