The unusually clear, clean, deep waters of Dabob Bay are being protected by a committed group of unexpected partners.
Pigeon Guillemots. Photo by Stephen Cunliffe
Perched on the “hood” of crooked Hood Canal, Dabob Bay is part of an unusually pristine, scenic and hard-to-get-to pocket of the Salish Sea. The clear, clean, very deep waters of the Bay have created an unspoiled habitat for salmon, shellfish, seals, porpoises and sea birds. In springtime, you might see more than 100 bald eagles congregating on the relatively undeveloped shorelines, which rise to high bluffs and forested uplands. Recreational fishing boats and kayaks dot the waters of Dabob Bay, while some oyster farms and other shellfish operations line parts of the edges.
A broad coalition of partners has come together to help ensure the ecological integrity of this special place. Around 2002, the Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI) initiated a whole-watershed conservation program for Tarboo Creek and Dabob Bay. NWI began working with Jefferson Land Trust, the Department of Natural Resources, Trust for Public Land, local conservation-minded landowners, the federal government, Jefferson County, the US Navy and others to permanently preserve, and in some cases restore, lands surrounding Dabob Bay.
Much of this work has involved working with private landowners who wanted to protect their land through conservation easements. Dozens of conservation easements and permanent habitat preserves have been established already.
In 2005, NWI purchased the 198-acre Daniel Yarr farm in 2005 and began to create the Tarboo Wildlife Preserve. To ensure its permanent protection, NWI donated a conservation easement on the property to the Land Trust. Since then, they’ve continued to purchase adjoining parcels with private donations and county, state, and federal grants, restoring habitat as necessary.
In 2009, after much study and public input, the state expanded an existing designated ‘Natural Area’ around the shoreline of Dabob Bay, while also establishing a Natural Resources Conservation Area in the uplands above the Bay. This conservation status is a powerful assurance that the clean waters and mature forest habitat that makes up much of the watershed will continue to thrive for generations to come.