Skating Lake by Gabriel Olson
A newly acquired property on the Long Beach Peninsula comes with historical and biological importance.

 

Our connection to the land at times can be so strong that it helps us identify who we are as people and what we choose to care about. That’s the case for Sydney Stevens, a descendant of the Espy family, who founded Oysterville on the Long Beach Peninsula in Pacific County, Washington in 1854.

“I often feel that the Espy family and Oysterville are so inter-related it is hard to know which has had the greatest influence upon the other,” writes Stevens on her blog. The charming village, once known as Shoalwater, quickly became a hub for the region’s prized native oyster. Today, Oysterville pulses with wildlife, fresh sea air, and a quiet past dotted by a few ancestral homes, a church, a school, and a store.

This spring, Sydney sold 54 acres of wetland property on Skating Lake near Oysterville to Columbia Land Trust for the purpose of conservation and wildlife habitat protection. The acquisition builds on the habitat of the neighboring 340-acre Skating Lake State Park. Northern flicker, black bear, trumpeter swan, and thousands of shorebirds take delight in the tall grasses, towering Sitka spruce trees, and healthy waters.

Coastal dunes stretch from north to south on the Long Beach Peninsula with a series of central wetlands and lakes nestled between them. The Land Trust has conserved hundreds of acres in this key habitat area along the peninsula, including properties at Leadbetter Point (Hines Marsh), Island & Loomis Lakes, and Breaker & Briscoe Lakes.

“Beyond its support of wildlife, this project also takes another step toward protecting drinking water for the community and adjacent cranberry bogs,” said Conservation Manager Nadia Gardner. “Preserving this land will provide an important buffer to state park lands essential to wildlife connectivity.”

The natural condition of the property, which is largely self-sustaining, will require little restoration with the exception of some weed control and native plant installations along the property boundaries.

The Land Trust looks forward to playing a small part in preserving Oysterville’s natural history. Thank you to the sellers, Sydney & Nyel Stevens, and to our funders at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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