Crooked Creek Property Expands Grays Bay Conservation Efforts
When Frank White reached out to Columbia Land Trust regarding the sale of his 19-acre vacation property near the mouth of Crooked Creek in Wahkiakum County, Washington, we leapt at the chance. Lands of this property’s strategic and ecological importance don’t come along every day.
Crooked Creek feeds into Grays Bay, the last major tributary of the Columbia in Washington before the river enters the Pacific. The bay and its tributaries, which also include Grays River and Deep River, provide crucial intertidal habitat for migrating juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon from throughout the Columbia. The region also supports spawning populations of steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout. In addition, the Grays River is one of the Columbia’s largest remaining Chum salmon runs.
This unique estuarine ecosystem also hosts a marvelous diversity of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds. This time of year, birders can spot American wigeons, northern pintails, pied-billed grebes and American coots throughout the region.
The property may not sound like much in isolation, but this latest purchase builds on a larger Crooked Creek conservation effort with major benefits for Northwest wildlife. By acquiring this land, which sits adjacent to 86 acres of existing Land Trust property, we’re now able to permanently conserve and restore 105 contiguous acres of critical wetlands in one of the Columbia’s most ecologically complex and productive habitats. Crooked Creek is one of 10 project areas now totaling 1,596 acres across the Grays Bay region.
While much of the Columbia River Estuary’s natural floodplain and wetlands have been lost to deforestation, diking, filling, grazing and development, the Crooked Creek area represents an opportunity to reverse the trend. Our restoration plans include activities that will reintroduce tidal dynamics and restore side channel habitat for salmon and waterfowl. Additionally, weed control and native planting efforts will improve forested wetland habitat for bear, elk, beaver and myriad bird species.
This acquisition was made possible by Bonneville Power Administration funding. We’re also grateful to the landowner, Frank White, for his commitment to conserving this remarkable land.