News & Events

We’re Celebrating: 107 Acres in the Quimper Wildlife Corridor Transferred to the County and Protected Forever!

Author: Jefferson Land Trust | 03/20/24


On the above map, the yellow line shows the Quimper Wildlife Corridor habitat area, the green areas show permanently protected land (protected by easement or owned by Jefferson Land Trust and other partners), the blue areas indicate properties protected since 2021 by funds raised by the Quimper Wildlife Corridor Challenge, the pink outlines indicate undeveloped parcels as of June 2023, and the yellow stars indicate entrances to the corridor. The three properties that make up the 107 acres now in county ownership (Quimper West, Quimper East, and Baby Quimper) are yellow.

For nearly three decades, Jefferson Land Trust has worked with the community, Jefferson County, and the City of Port Townsend to protect the Quimper Wildlife Corridor piece by piece. Now, we’ve arrived at a milestone decades in the making: facilitating the purchase and permanent protection of 107 acres of forestland by Jefferson County through the Trust Land Transfer program of the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Photo of lush forest trail in Quimper West Preserve.. Photo by Wendy Feltham.

Lush forest trail in Quimper West Preserve. Photo by Wendy Feltham.

“These are such important pieces of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor puzzle,” said County Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour. “It’s very exciting that the long-held vision for these properties is being realized. They will benefit the community and wildlife for generations.”

This acreage, comprising three separate properties, is the largest addition to the corridor yet. Its successful protection is the result of many years of collaboration, creative problem solving, and extraordinary community support.

“We couldn’t have reached this exciting moment without our supporters,” said Richard Tucker, Jefferson Land Trust’s Executive Director. “We’re so grateful for their vision and foresight. We can also thank our great partnership with the county for making this dream a reality.”

The Land Trust was able to facilitate the transfer of the three beautiful forest properties — known as Quimper West, Quimper East, and Baby Quimper — from DNR to Jefferson County ownership for permanent protection thanks in large part to the incredible outpouring of community support we received after launching the Quimper Wildlife Corridor Challenge in early 2021. Community donations were matched by a grant from the Jefferson County Conservation Futures Fund to reach the sale price.

Photo of a Pileated Woodpecker in Quimper Wildlife Corridor by Wendy Feltham

Pileated Woodpecker in Quimper Wildlife Corridor. Photo by Wendy Feltham.

The transfer was finalized on February 28, 2024.

Our Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships, Sarah Spaeth, has worked for the Land Trust for 28 years, after being originally hired to manage the Quimper Wildlife Corridor project in 1996. She shares her perspective:

“When this protection project first began, we recognized that there were these ‘pearls on a string’ — these larger blocks of habitat that were really important for the corridor concept,” she explained. “Without them, the continuity of this greenbelt would be compromised. We considered the Quimper West property to be one of these pearls.”

In addition to being a connector between several other significant protected properties in the corridor, Quimper West is one of the largest parcels in the corridor and has some of the oldest trees. The trails that weave through Quimper West make it a favorite destination for walkers, birders, bikers, horseback riders, students, and visitors from near and far. Quimper East and Baby Quimper, though smaller, are also important puzzle pieces for the corridor.

Six people in front of sign reading "Quimper West Preserve"

Volunteers and AmeriCorps crew members during a 2023 Jefferson Land Trust work party at Quimper West Preserve.

The successful permanent protection of the 107 acres is the result of the Land Trust’s long-term partnership with the county, DNR, and others. In 2009, we collectively applied with Jefferson County for a Trust Land Transfer Lease program that funded 50-year conservation leases on DNR-managed lands for local governments, and Jefferson County began leasing the three parcels from DNR. According to this lease arrangement, Jefferson Land Trust and Jefferson County could make up the difference between the leased value and the full fair-market value during the 50-year period, effectively buying the interest from DNR. A few years ago, the county and Jefferson Land Trust decided it was time to act upon making up that difference, in order to ensure that this land would be protected not only for 50 years, but forever.

Protecting these three forested properties forever, as well as working with interested landowners to protect parcels to buffer corridor wetlands and popular trails was the impetus for launching the Quimper Wildlife Corridor Challenge in 2021. We were amazed by the volume of support we received: we raised more than $3.2 million, which allowed us to work with Jefferson County, DNR, and many willing private landowners to more than double the amount of protected land in the corridor in less than three years. With these properties now in county ownership, 287 acres of the corridor are now permanently protected.

“It’s wonderful to see how people continue to be inspired by this project over the years,” says Sarah. “People love this place, and want to do their part to help protect it.”

Two women in sunny forest clearing.

Quimper West Preserve Stewards Wendy and Eileen in Quimper West in 2022.

Over the years, Sarah’s seen the forest change, becoming healthier through forest management activities and natural regeneration to become more and more valuable as wildlife habitat for birds, mammals, trees, and other native wildlife.

“After all the steps we’ve gone through with the county, DNR, and the community — to know, finally, that these three important properties are permanently protected, has been a 28-year journey. It’s really significant to know that it will always be there to support wildlife and to be available for humans to enjoy, too,” she says.

The three parcels are now protected with perpetual deed restrictions that limit uses to conservation and recreation. According to the terms of our stewardship agreement with the county, Jefferson Land Trust will be responsible for caring for the land: maintaining the trails, improving habitat, and undertaking activities that support forest health and improve old-growth characteristics.

Though there remain many parcels left to protect in the Corridor and our Quimper Wildlife Corridor project is still “open and ongoing,” this is such an important milestone to celebrate. We’re grateful to the county; Kathleen Mitchell, who first conceptualized the Quimper Wildlife Corridor; the city of Port Townsend; the Jefferson County Conservation Futures Fund; former DNR regional manager Mike Cronin; ecological assessment expert Fred Sharpe; Sarah and Owen Fairbank; Quimper West’s dedicated Preserve Stewards Wendy Feltham, Chris Jones and Eileen Cooney; Quimper East Preserve Stewards Toresa Martell, Jeanmarie Morelli, and Linda Rhines; current and former corridor Preserve Stewards Sandy Gillespie, Lee Merrill, Kathy Darrow, and Cheryl Wallace; the Washington State Wildlife and Recreation Urban Wildlife Habitat Program; Clif Family Foundation; Cross Charitable Foundation; FairWinds Winery; James D. Scheinfeld Family Foundation; Norcliffe Foundation; Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation; and all the foundations, individual donors, businesses and volunteers who’ve contributed their time and resources so generously. Thank you!

Drone shot of peninsula with corridor of trees.

Aerial view of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor. Photo by John Gussman.