Quimper Wildlife Corridor

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

Sharp-Shinned Hawk. Photo by Stephen Cunliffe.

A Bird’s-Eye View

The Quimper Wildlife Corridor is a 3.5-mile band of forest stretching across the tip of the Quimper Peninsula from Fort Worden to McCurdy Point. 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 Port Townsend and beyond.

The Preservation Story

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 of Port Townsend, 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 began to purchase properties and conservation easements from willing landowners. Together, we began to build the backbone of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor.

The Protected Property Today

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.

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.

An Opportunity for the Future — the Quimper Wildlife Corridor Challenge

We launched the Quimper Wildlife Corridor Challenge in 2021 with the goals of purchasing key properties within the corridor from interested private landowners to buffer important wetlands and popular trails and to connect additional critical habitat areas of the corridor and helping to facilitate a Trust Land Transfer 107 acres of forestland from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to Jefferson County.

The Quimper Wildlife Corridor Challenge Video produced by John Gussman.

The Quimper Wildlife Corridor Challenge has received more than $3.25 million in gifts and pledged donations of land. Thanks to such broad support, we’ve successfully worked with 30 willing landowners to protect 34 properties totaling more than 45 acres since 2021, adding key links to the chain of protected land with a focus on both ecological and recreational benefits.

Soon, we’ll be celebrating a major milestone decades in the making. All the necessary funding is in place to transfer three beautiful forested properties — known as Quimper West, Quimper East, and Baby Quimper — totaling 107 acres from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to Jefferson County ownership for permanent protection. Individual contributions to the Corridor Challenge from Land Trust supporters were matched by a grant from the Jefferson County Conservation Futures Fund to reach the sale price of $383,000. Once this transaction takes place, we’ll have more than doubled the number of forever protected acres in the corridor!

With remaining grant funds and continued community support, we’ll work with willing landowners to protect high-priority properties in the corridor into the future.

Thank you for joining the challenge and making your gift today.

Additional Resources

Quimper Wildlife Corridor Map

Quimper Wildlife Corridor Field Guide

Quimper Wildlife Corridor Management 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

Cappy’s History

Natural History of Olympic Peninsula Meadows

100 Year Flood Plain Defined

Wetlands in the Quimper Wildlife Corridor