Jefferson Land Trust protects section of Discovery Bay watershed on Snow Creek
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Jefferson Land Trust
Jefferson Land Trust Executive Director Sarah Spaeth shows off the new Jefferson Land Trust preserve sign at Snow Creek Uncas Preserve.

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PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson Land Trust has acquired a section of Snow Creek in the Discovery Bay watershed as part of a long-term project to restore salmon and other species.

Salmon and Snow creeks flow into the estuary at the head of the bay.

The acquisition of more than 15 acres includes 1,400 feet of Snow Creek, prime habitat for the threatened summer chum salmon.

'Riparian habitat'

“This property is already healthy riparian habitat, with the creek following its natural path and a good amount of native vegetation,” said Erik Kingfisher, land trust stewardship director.

“Now we can protect it and assure it will remain a healthy part of the Salmon/Snow Creek watershed in perpetuity.”

The protected parcel is visible from U.S. Highway 101 at the head of Discovery Bay.

The state Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Jefferson County Conservation Futures Fund funded the purchase.

The two groups are partners with the land trust and several other agencies — including the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe, the Washington State University Extension office and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, among others — in the Chumsortium, which has worked to protect and restore the Discovery Bay area since 2000.

Permanently protected

More than 360 acres of critical habitat downstream of the Snow Creek Uncas Preserve are permanently protected and under the stewardship of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the land trust.

Much of the land in the new acquisition is in good shape, with mature maple trees and conifers, but in less-healthy areas, the land trust will remove invasive species and plant cedar, spruce and other conifers, the land trust said.

“We want to provide shade and plants so that the whole property will replicate an old-growth forest with tall, long-lasting trees and a good understory,” Kingfisher said.

“Then the whole property will be a nurturing and vibrant habitat as it goes through its natural changes.”

The North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Washington Conservation Corps and invited school groups will work with the land trust to do the planting.

The new property links with a system of waterways that rise in the Olympic Mountains and flow into Discovery Bay.

The primary conservation emphasis is on the riparian habitat and the many species of fish it supports, especially salmon.

As the creek empties into Discovery Bay, it enhances the estuary's native Olympia oyster population as well as white sturgeon, lampreys, herring, chinook and other fish that forage there, the land trust said.

Last modified: September 28. 2013 5:32PM
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