News & Events

Our Top 3 Reasons to Visit the Duckabush Oxbow & Wetlands Preserve

Author: Jefferson Land Trust | 09/14/18

Roosevelt elk

These Roosevelt elk were recently photographed by Lianna Johnson’s motion-detecting wildlife camera near the Duckabush River. Lianna is one of our Volunteer Preserve Stewards.

In the Duckabush River Valley, more than 3,250 acres of permanently protected land create a corridor of wildlife habitat. This greenbelt corridor hosts a wide variety of species – fish, insects, amphibians, mammals and birds – that have relied on this land for thousands of years. In addition to providing important spawning and rearing habitat for endangered salmon, wildlife such as elk, bear, beaver, and cougar have all been observed there recently.

A particularly good place to visit is the Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve, which the Land Trust protected in 2015. It’s a favorite of many Land Trust staff members for a variety of reasons. Below is a list of the top 3:

#1: View Wildlife in Its Natural Habitat

Chris Clark

Chris Clark is inspired by seeing wildlife, especially salmon, in action in their natural habitat.

Chris Clark, the Land Trust’s Deputy Director, thinks the best reason to visit the Preserve is to see wildlife – especially salmon – in action.

“The first time I saw salmon spawning was just a few years ago, right here in Jefferson County.” said Chris, who grew up in Edmonds, Washington. “Watching those salmon push forward against the rushing water was a poignant moment I’ll never forget. There’s something mysterious and moving to me about the way instinct calls these fish home. Against great odds, they struggle and they return.”

A great time of year to visit is early fall. During September and October is a prime time to view chum and coho salmon. It’s also an exciting time to see and hear the Roosevelt elk herd who call this area home, because, during the rut (the time when male elk, or bulls, vie for the hearts of their female counterparts) bull elk are at their most vocal.

#2: Spend Time Tracking by Looking for Signs of Wildlife

Sarah Spaeth

For Sarah Spaeth, finding signs of wildlife in the Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve gives her a new appreciation for her work protecting wildlife habitat.

For the Land Trust’s Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships, Sarah Spaeth, seeing signs of wildlife at Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve gives her a whole new appreciation for her work.

Because so many critters are tied to the salmon cycle, a river wildlife corridor is an active, vital place, rich in tracking opportunities. While tracking at the preserve, Sarah’s seen tracks of elk, black bear, bobcat, beaver, river otter, mink, and coyote. And former landowners have reported seeing owls, eagles, and wood ducks.

This bear photo was taken in early June near the Duckabush River by Lianna Johnson’s motion-detecting wildlife camera

Sarah, who loves the outdoors, remembers one memorable occasion at the Preserve, “I walked by a tree and observed a combination of curly black hairs and white hairs embedded in the cracks of its bark – the black ones from bear and the white ones from elk. It was as if each was announcing its presence in the Preserve on the same signpost.”

For Sarah, seeing signs of black bear in the preserve was a rich demonstration of a powerful system at work. After gorging on the spawning salmon, the bear then carry important nutrients from the sea into the forest and poop, thus nourishing the trees.

#3: Get Away From It All

Richard Tucker

Richard Tucker likes to get away from it all at the Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve.

When Richard Tucker, the Land Trust’s Executive Director, wants to really get away, he visits the Preserve where he has a favorite sit spot. There, he remains quietly for 20 or 30 minutes and just takes it all in.

This is what he has to say about his visits to the Preserve: “I go, be, listen, smell, and watch. It’s a feast for the senses, it’s good therapy, and – best of all – it’s free.”

Getting away, for Richard, is a gift to himself, “When I’m there, it’s hard to believe I’m so close to Seattle.”

“Peaceful. Calming. Beautiful. Places like this are why I do the work I do.”

See It for Yourself

Whether you want to recharge by sitting and soaking up nature, do some tracking to look for animal signs, or spend time viewing salmon, elk, and other wildlife in their natural habitat, we encourage you to visit the Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve.

And if you can’t get out to see it for yourself, enjoy the gallery of wildlife photos below. All of the images were captured this summer by one of our Preserve Stewards with her tree-mounted, motion-detecting wildlife camera.

Jefferson Land Trust occasionally leads guided nature walks through the preserve and often hosts work parties to care for and improve the land. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us at or 360.379.9501.

Directions: From Highway 101 near Brinnon, take Duckabush Road for about 1 mile to the parking area beneath the power lines on the left.

Seasonal closure information: To permit wildlife to enjoy winter forage undisturbed, the Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve is closed to visitors from December through April.