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Columbia Land Trust Acquires Iconic Columbia River Island

Columbia Land Trust Acquires Iconic Columbia River Island

Pierce Island As seen from Beacon Rock. Photo by Tom Dempsey/

VANCOUVER, WA—This week, Columbia Land Trust received ownership of Pierce Island, the iconic 136-acre Columbia River island that sits directly below Beacon Rock. Pierce Island is one of the best remaining natural islands in the Columbia River Gorge and is one of the last remaining locations in Washington for persistent sepal yellowcress (Rorippa columbiae), a state-endangered plant that is the member of the mustard family.

 “Pierce Island is a gem in the Columbia Gorge,” says Columbia Land Trust Forestry Initiative Manager Cherie Kearney. “If you stop and take in a good view of the island and its rugged shoreline, you will always see a bald eagle or osprey. It’s incredible that a native plant that learned to thrive with the river’s rise and fall still is found here.” 

This is the fourth property in the Columbia River region that The Nature Conservancy has transferred to Columbia Land Trust over the last several years. “Columbia Land Trust is the ideal partner to continue to steward Pierce Island on into the future as they’ve developed a deep and comprehensive conservation and stewardship strategy for the Columbia River region. We’re confident that the island will be in good hands and its conservation promise fulfilled,” said the Conservancy’s James Schroeder, conservation director in Washington State.

The previous three properties transferred to Columbia Land Trust include Wahkiakus Oaks, a 62-acre property on the Little Klickitat River in Klickitat County; 40 acres along Klickitat County’s West Major Creek , which protects forest habitat for rare orchids; and 95 acres of intact spruce-swamp wetland along Grays Bay in the Columbia River estuary.  

The Nature Conservancy also provided an endowment of $120,000 for the stewardship of Pierce Island. Those funds will ensure continuous on-the-ground habitat management, which is essential for a place like Pierce Island: The Columbia River’s continually changing flows mean that invasive weed seeds are deposited easily on the island. Garbage—from fence posts to fishing lines—also washes up on the island’s shores.

“We look forward to continuing the restoration work that the Nature Conservancy started almost 30 years ago,” says Columbia Land Trust Stewardship Director Ian Sinks. “Protecting key resources such as the sepal yellowcress, controlling invasive species, restoring the riparian forest and collaborating on salmon-habitat projects are all part of our plans for the property.”


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