News & Events

Celebrating an Additional 25 Acres at the Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve

Author: Jefferson Land Trust | 10/13/20

Duckabush River

Originally protected in 2015, the Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve represented our first large-acreage protection on the south side of the Duckabush River. Now, the preserve is 25 acres larger.

Jefferson Land Trust has been working on conservation projects along the Dosewallips and Duckabush Rivers since the mid-90s. In 1994, long-time locals, Vern and Ida Bailey donated a conservation easement on their 187-acre property on the Dosewallips River, our first project in the area. That act alone protected a significant portion of beautiful open space and essential wildlife habitat. The Bailey’s act of generosity sparked a multi-decade pursuit of conserving land bordering these two critical waterways.

Steadily Expanding Protected Areas in Our Watersheds

Sarah Spaeth observes tall tree

Sarah Spaeth observes a tall tree in the new section of the Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve.

Over the past two decades, the Land Trust has worked with a consortium of partners, including the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, Jefferson County, the US Navy, The Trust for Public Land, the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group and others in collaboration to protect and restore these important areas.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve just expanded the Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve by 25 acres, further protecting this critical stretch of land. With a mix of dense, mature forests and intertwining waterways, the preserve provides essential habitat to a variety of wildlife. In addition to vulnerable salmon species, this special place regularly hosts bear, mink, cougar, bobcat, elk, otter, and more.

A Wildlife Oasis for Vulnerable Salmon and Other Wildlife

In late 2015, with help from the Trust for Public Land and the Navy, as well as generous salmon recovery funding, the Land Trust was able to purchase 140 acres of riverbank and forest. It became the Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve and represented our first large-acreage protection on the south side of the Duckabush River. At the same time, this partnership allowed the Navy to protect approximately 2,600 acres of working forestland along the Duckabush River.

Working with our partners over time to fill in pieces of the “puzzle,” a vital corridor preserving waterways, forests, and crucial habitat for five different species of spawning salmon (including the vulnerable summer chum salmon) has gradually been formed.

Steep slopes at Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve

Steep slopes rise from the river bed at the Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve.

“The Land Trust prioritizes the expansion of current protected properties,” said Sarah Spaeth, Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships. “When we can add these ‘missing links’ and create contiguous corridors for habitat, we’re adding resilience to the property and the animals that depend on it. We don’t know exactly what future challenges these properties will face, so resiliency is key. It’s why this recent acquisition is so exciting.

The Hood Canal Coordinating Council, a group that prioritizes specific areas that advance the salmon population’s health, and the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board were both crucial to the success of this project and a private foundation provided the necessary matching funds.

This new 25 acres bordering the Duckabush River fill in a missing portion of the property in what is otherwise a contiguous protected area. “Recently, we’ve been focusing on this particular section of the preserve where the habitat is exceptionally valuable,” Sarah explained.

The new acreage includes steep slopes and side channels, providing vital salmon sections for migration. As the fish move through the rivers, creeks, and side channels, returning to spawn, that’s when other animals come to feed.

With its steep slopes, water run-off is common

With its steep slopes, water run-off is common during wet times at the new addition to the Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve.

“Working closely with our project partners in these waterways, we tend to focus on salmon habitat. But it was a real ‘ah-ha’ moment to see so many animal tracks and signs of other wildlife on the property,” said Sarah. “It illustrated the fact that these projects go far beyond salmon and enhance entire natural areas.”

From the Waters of the Hood Canal to the Forests of the National Park

Aside from essential habitat and salmon protection, the Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve also provides a healthy forest buffer along the river, protecting the lower floodplain areas and maintaining critical forest cover along the Duckabush River.

“There are still some ‘missing links’ that we’d like to fill in eventually,” stated Sarah, “but this property is one of the last remaining pieces of this puzzle. What makes it so exciting is that now we’ve officially connected this wide corridor from the Hood Canal to the National Park.”

Supportive and enthusiastic, the landowner held this land for more than 20 years. He’s thrilled to know it will expand this essential corridor, protecting critical habitat and waterways, and so are we!

The restoration and stewardship of properties bordering critical salmon habitat on the Duckabush and Dosewallips Rivers are made possible by our funding partners: the Cross Charitable Foundation, the Burning Foundation, and generous individual donors. Big thanks to all our conservation partners for supporting this essential work.