This ribbon of green stretching across the Quimper Peninsula connects a string of wetlands, forests and floodplains that provide habitat for over 200 bird species, amphibians and mammals, and a peaceful refuge for local hikers, bikers and birdwatchers.
Sharp-Shinned Hawk. Photo by Stephen Cunliffe.
The Quimper Wildlife Corridor is a 3.5 mile band of forest stretching across the tip of the Quimper Peninsula from Fort Worden to Middlepoint. This greenbelt links six wetlands along a 100-year floodplain and natural drainage basin, which filters urban stormwater. This natural system protects water quality in local aquifers, into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and out to Protection Island, where 70 percent of Puget Sound’s seabird populations nest.
The corridor’s forests provide safe passage and natural refuge for everything from migratory songbirds like Swainson’s Thrush to the slow, local migration of rough-skinned newts, while a maze of trails attracts visitors from nearby Port Townsend.
In the early 1990s, population growth began to boom in the City of Port Townsend and Jefferson County with one of the highest rates of population growth in the state. It became clear that there was a short window of opportunity to protect “critical areas” of the land base that are important to community health (as per the State of Washington’s Growth Management Act), such as wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, aquifer recharge areas and frequently flooded areas.
The idea for the Quimper Wildlife Corridor came from an Evergreen College student who conducted a feasibility study for a wildlife corridor concept. She conceived of a project to work on shielding the forest from new development due to the benefits this land provides in its natural state. The Corridor is important for managing stormwater and keeping our local water clean. It protects an urban wildlife refuge that provides natural habitat and safe passage for wildlife in a rapidly urbanizing environment, and it provides open space and recreational trails for Port Townsend’s growing population.
So, the City, local researchers. community members and Jefferson Land Trust went to work. The wetlands, floodplain and drainage corridors in the city were mapped and inventoried, and Quimper Wildlife Corridor partners sought funding to purchase land that was available in order to protect it in its natural state.
Meanwhile, Jefferson Land Trust adopted the Quimper Wildlife Corridor as our first proactive land protection project. We partnered with government agencies, led educational and outreach programs and, in 1999, launched a major fundraising campaign to purchase properties and conservation easements. Together, we began to build the backbone of the Wildlife Corridor.
In the late 1800s, Port Townsend was anticipated to be the terminus for the Pan-Pacific Railroad. Dense development was planned on 50-by-100-foot lots throughout what is now the Quimper Wildlife Corridor. Today, these undeveloped forests and wetlands are threaded with miles of recreational trails that locals and visitors use for walking, biking, bird watching and horseback riding. These trails also form part of Port Townsend’s city-wide non-motorized transportation network. Sewer and water pipes lie below some of the trails, and a manhole in the Winona wetland is a reminder that much of this greenbelt is still at risk of development.
Together as a community, we are gradually protecting a connected greenbelt that will stay wild forever, for the benefit of both people and wildlife. We continue to work with the City of Port Townsend, Jefferson County, community groups and local residents on this ambitious project. Since 1995 we have raised more than two million dollars to purchase properties – now totaling more than 240 acres – for the long-term protection of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor. A management plan for the corridor (see Additional Resources below) was adopted by the City of Port Townsend in 2008. This plan guides the collaborative stewardship of this community resource.
Quimper Wildlife Corridor Managment Plan
Summary of the Botanical Features of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor
Cappy’s Trails Plant Inventory
Winona Wetland Plant List
Summer Birds in Quimper Wildlife Corridor Wetlands
Natural History of Olympic Peninsula Meadows
100 Year Flood Plain Defined
Wetlands in the Quimper Wildlife Corridor