Discover Two Newly Conserved Sites - Columbia Land Trust

East Fork Lewis River: Optimist Club Youth Camp
Columbia Land Trust helped permanently protect a forested youth camp in the heart of Clark County, in partnership with the Optimist Club of Vancouver. The 46-acre parcel sits along the East Fork Lewis River adjacent to a popular county park, in an area that is a conservation priority for both the county and the Land Trust due to ecological importance and development pressures. 

“The conservation of this camp builds on decades of work to create a 14-mile greenway along the East Fork,” said Conservation Director Dan Roix. “This was an incredible opportunity to ensure that future generations of youth will be able to engage with nature in a powerful way.”

The Optimist Club’s rustic camp is free to youth-serving organizations and welcomes about 700 campers annually. The new conservation easement will facilitate the camp’s continued operation and maintain wildlife habitat values. 

“The club chose to work with Columbia Land Trust to protect this special place to benefit youth in our community and to protect this vital watershed in an increasingly urban setting” said Club Secretary/Treasurer Mary L. White. 

Land Trust Real Estate Transactions Coordinator Pamela Swearingen shared her family’s experience, “Growing up in Clark County, my son’s Boy Scout troop used the Optimist Club camp to practice outdoor skills and earn merit badges. It was incredible to have such a beautiful place available and it was an honor to work on this project and help conserve the camp forever.” 

The camp remains private property, not open to the public, but interested youth organizations may reach out to the Optimist Club of Vancouver by emailing Mary at

Funding was provided by Clark County’s Conservation Futures Program. 

Grays River: Fossil Creek 
Another newly conserved site along Washington’s Grays River contains the headwaters of Crazy Johnson Creek, one of the most important areas for chum salmon in the entire Columbia River basin. During spawning seasons the creek roils with salmon, and maintaining this ecosystem will be a key priority of our stewardship efforts. The site also protects existing marbled murrelet habitat and promotes watershed health, benefiting human communities.

Columbia Land Trust has been working in the Grays River watershed since 2000, and has protected and restored numerous tidal wetlands, allowing the river to return to its historic floodplain and providing habitat for salmon, waterfowl, and many other species. The 342-acre Fossil Creek plot neighbors existing conserved lands, allowing our team to build off existing management goals and build connectivity within the landscape. 

“Fossil Creek and the ecological processes the site supports align with the long-term community-based conservation strategy we are working on in the Grays River watershed,” said Stewardship Director Ian Sinks. 

Project funding came from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, Washington Coast Restoration and Resiliency Initiative, Salmon Recovery Funding Board, and the Land Trust Alliance Resilient Landscapes grant program. 

Read the full Fall 2022 Fieldbook here.