News & Events

Extraordinary Property Protected Forever: 155 Forested Acres with a Mile of Salmon Creek

Author: Lilly Schneider | 01/26/24

Creek in forest

A portion of Salmon Creek running through the property.

We’re thrilled to share that we’ve recently completed the permanent protection of an extraordinary 155-acre property in the Snow and Salmon Creeks watershed. Here, a full mile of Salmon Creek and six tributaries stream down steep forested slopes that lead eventually into Discovery Bay and into the Strait of Juan De Fuca on the north side of the Olympic Peninsula: the home waters of the Strait of Juan De Fuca’s threatened summer chum population.

Person in ferns and forest

A Land Trust Conservation Projects Committee volunteer walking the property during the fall.

“This is such an important project — not only because of the property’s size and location, but because of the full mile of Salmon Creek that runs through it,” says Blaise Sullivan, Jefferson Land Trust’s Conservation Coordinator. “To be able to protect a full mile of a salmon-bearing creek by working with a single willing landowner is really significant.”

Since 2001, working with willing landowners and many partners including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, North Olympic Salmon Coalition, and others, Jefferson Land Trust has protected 547 acres of land and wildlife habitat in the Snow and Salmon Creeks watershed for the benefit of native salmon and other wildlife.

Over the last three decades, and as we continue this work today, our key partners are members of the Chumsortium: a collection of local public and private entities (including the Land Trust) that collaborate to restore and protect the threatened summer chum population in the Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan De Fuca.

About 15 years ago, the Chumstorium learned of this 155-acre property, which in addition to summer chum hosts spawning grounds for listed and threatened coho and winter steelhead, and contains habitat used by fall chum and cutthroat trout. Considering the significance of this place for these fish populations together with its location, size, ecological features, and condition, the Chumsortium identified the property as a priority for protection. Though initial efforts to protect it were unsuccessful, continued persistence and vision on behalf of Jefferson Land Trust, the former landowner, members of the Chumsortium, granting agencies, and many others ultimately prevailed, culminating in the successful permanent protection of this extraordinary piece of land in late 2023.


Another portion of Salmon Creek on the property.

Before the Land Trust acquired the property, it was managed for large-scale timber harvesting, and bears signs of earlier clearcuts. It was also at risk of residential conversion. Now that the land is protected, these threats have been eliminated. This is good news for the water quality of Salmon Creek, because the landscape’s extremely steep slopes make the creek and its tributaries vulnerable to erosion and degradation, which often results from upland clearcutting.

“Protecting the water quality of this stretch of Salmon Creek also affects the downstream water quality of Discovery Bay and the shared estuary of Salmon and Snow Creeks, where several salmonid species return after the ocean stage of their life cycles,” Blaise adds.

The forested buffer along the section of Salmon Creek running through the property is in healthy, beautiful condition, but our assessments found that the health of the six tributaries has been degraded due to a previous clearcut in the 1990s. Now, one of our top priorities for the property will be to restore these tributaries to create better conditions for water quality. By selectively thinning some sections of the forest which were subjected to dense replanting after being clearcut, we’ll be able to dramatically improve conditions for the multiple tributaries and forest health overall.

Woman posing next to large pile of bear scat

Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships Sarah Spaeth pointing to a pile of bear scat during a site visit to the property.

“The property is also part of the greater wildlife corridor that stretches from Discovery Bay to the foothills of the Olympic Mountains,” says Blaise. “We can infer with a property this large, and by finding animal tracks and signs, that there’s significant wildlife use of the land.”

Going forward, the property will be managed by the Land Trust as a nature preserve: a place where salmon, birds, bears, and other wildlife can forage, shelter, migrate, and thrive — forever.

The protection of this property was made possible by funding from the Jefferson County Conservation Futures Fund as well two Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office grants: a Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant and a Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grant.

We wish to extend our gratitude to these granting agencies as well as to the property’s former owner, our Chumsortium partners, and our community supporters. Together, we’ve taken a big, 155-acre stride forward in supporting local salmon and other wildlife — and building a healthier and more resilient Peninsula for all.


This map shows how Salmon Creek and Snow Creek lead into Discovery Bay and highlights land conservation projects in the Snow and Salmon Creeks watershed. The newly protected 155-acre property is outlined in red. The tan-colored parcels are owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The green parcels are Jefferson Land Trust Preserves. The blue parcels are properties protected permanently with conservation easements.