News & Events

The Conservation Bell – a Joyful Sound

Author: Jefferson Land Trust | 01/24/20

View of Quilcene Bay

View of Quilcene Bay near a family farm soon to be protected for its significance to salmon recovery.

When we get official notice that a new property deed has been recorded at the county, Sarah Spaeth, Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships, rings a special bell at Jefferson Land Trust’s office. This tradition, which started about 10 years ago, is our way of acknowledging and celebrating that another important place in Jefferson County is now permanently protected.

It’s something worth celebrating as conservation projects involve a great deal of work, creativity, and planning to complete. Meeting with landowners to determine their wishes and what’s possible for their land, managing the necessary real estate transactions, and finding and securing funding takes time — often years.

In addition to time, applying for and securing public grant funding almost always requires matching dollars. “Requiring matching funds is way for funders to leverage their money and confirm that projects have broad community support,” said Sarah. “On nearly every project where we’re purchasing a conservation easement or the fee simple interest in a property, we have to get multiple sources of funding. It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.”

Duckabush River

Originating in the Olympic Mountains, the Duckabush River is important for five salmon species.

Fortunately, thanks to a generous $100,000 grant recently awarded to the Land Trust by a private foundation, two of the projects Sarah hopes to ring the bell for in 2020 now have the necessary matching funds. The first project will protect important salmon habitat on the Duckabush River. The second will protect a farm that includes valuable forest and fish habitat at the head of Quilcene Bay. 

The Duckabush River originates in the Olympic Mountains and the lower stretch of its main stem meanders across flood plains and into side channels and historic wetlands. This section of the river is especially important habitat for five salmon species: Chinook (King), Steelhead, Coho (Silver), Pink (Humpy), and Chum. 

Steep forested slopes above the Duckabush River

The steep forested slopes above the Duckabush River protect water quality and provide wildlife habitat.

We’ve been working in partnership with local landowners, Jefferson County, the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, the Trust for Public Land, the Navy, private timber companies, and others since 2008 to protect the naturally functioning stretches of the river and to restore and improve river habitat.

Our current project will protect one of the few remaining privately owned properties on the south side of the river — a spectacular parcel that’s one of the last missing pieces in a string of Jefferson Land Trust preserves. With steep slopes covered with a diverse mix of mature trees as well as river frontage, side channels, and wetlands, the property is a haven for wildlife. 

In addition to having ideal habitat for salmon, Sarah’s found signs of bear, otter, and cougar on the property. Funding for the project has been awarded from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, with matching dollars from the private foundation. We’re negotiating the last details with the landowner and hope to purchase the property before summer 2020. 

Diverse forested area on family farm in Quilcene

View of the upland forest on the family farm in Quilcene.

On Quilcene Bay, members of a farming family with deep roots in Quilcene are interested in preserving their farm with a conservation easement. It’s a project that’s especially exciting because it includes aspects of all three of Jefferson Land Trust’s focus areas: farms, fish, and forests. 

The farm has a beautiful upland forest, rich agricultural land, and salmon habitat. Additionally, the property is builds upon other preservation efforts in the area, broadening the benefit for local wildlife. As with the Duckabush River project, the sources of funding have been lined up and we are finalizing the conservation easement terms. 

We’re looking forward to Sarah ringing the bell to indicate that the rich conservation values of these two properties will be protected forever.