As trilliums bloom along the banks of the East Fork Lewis River, plans on a comprehensive greenway come one step closer to fruition.
The East Fork Lewis River, which flows west from Gifford Pinchot National Forest through central Clark County, is beloved by area naturalists, anglers, and recreationists alike. In order to ensure that the river remains a valuable resource for both people and wildlife, the state of Washington designated a stretch of waterfront property known as the East Fork Lewis River Greenway a priority habitat.
Over the past 25 years, Columbia Land Trust has collaborated with Clark County and other community partners to conserve more than 2,000 acres along the greenway, which spans both banks of the river upstream from Paradise Point State Park. To date, the Land Trust has conserved nearly 300 acres along the East Fork Lewis River, including 19 acres acquired this month.
“The East Fork Lewis River is an incredible natural resource right in our backyard,” said Dan Roix, interim conservation director for the Land Trust. “The conservation of the greenway is a great example how much can be accomplished through strong, lasting partnerships.”
The newly-acquired stretch of riverside habitat connects adjacent conserved lands along the river and brings the broader greenway project one step closer to fruition. Once complete, the greenway could feature a formal network of trails and public amenities that balance recreation interests with the protection of wildlife habitat.
The river is home to Endangered Species Act-listed fish, including winter and summer steelhead, coho, chum, and fall Chinook. In addition to salmonids, the greenway offers habitat for large concentrations of migratory waterfowl, wintering bald eagles, and other river-dwelling species. While most of the greenway is currently accessible to the public, several swaths of land have not been permanently conserved and access is limited to informal trails.
The 19-acre property, which is comprised of lowland riverside forests as well as upland groves of Douglas-fir and western hemlock, is also home to small-flowered trillium, a relatively unique plant species that is sensitive to habitat disturbance.
Moving forward, the Land Trust’s stewardship team will work to restore forest habitat and control weeds. The Land Trust and Clark County will continue work to fill in some of the last remaining gaps along the greenway.