Willapa Bay & Long Beach Peninsula - Columbia Land Trust

Willapa Bay & Long Beach Peninsula

Kayaking Island Lake Forest
  • Number of Projects:9
  • Acreage: 1615
  • Fact: The green sturgeon of Willapa Bay are among the largest cartilaginous fish in the world, reaching seven feet in length and weighing up to 350 pounds.
  • Experience: Beaches, sand dunes, marshes, lakes, and old-growth forests all come together to create a coastal wonderland for wildlife and the people who call this Pacific haven home.
  • What We’re Doing: Conserving and caring for coastal dunes, forests, wetlands, streams, riverfront, and bayfront land. Protecting the drinking water supply by conserving the freshwater wetlands that help groundwater recharge and stay clean.

Contact Us About This Project

The Big Picture

Encompassing more than 260 square miles , Willapa Bay is the second-largest estuary on the Pacific Coast and is very much a Northwest treasure. Columbia Land Trust conserved its first property on Long Beach Peninsula in 2001—a small property around Hines Marsh, a 900-acre wetland often billed as the largest “interdunal wetland” on the West Coast. Conserving lands that protect drinking water, wildlife areas, and rare habitats motivate our work here.

Why It Matters

Thanks to low population density and a lack of industrial development, wildlife still thrives on the Long Beach Peninsula and in Willapa Bay. More than 100,000 shorebirds rest and feed during the spring migration; five salmon species pass through the bay en route to natal rivers on the east side of the bay; green and white sturgeon, those bizarrely prehistoric fish, find refuge in the bay itself. The waters of Willapa Bay are relatively pristine, but pristine doesn’t mean unchanged of course. Invasive species, such as spartina, are a constant threat to area waters. By protecting freshwater wetlands, we’re not only protecting wildlife habitat, but also the peninsula’s drinking water, essential to local economies and human health.

West Fork Grays River
Featured Story

Changes on the Grays

Author and ecologist Robert Michael Pyle offers an introduction to his home waters, the Grays River.

In a time of travel blogs and Instagram influencers, it can feel as if the secret places of the Pacific Northwest have all been shared. Yet, despite being just two hours from Portland and three from Seattle, the Grays River still flows in relative obscurity. The Grays drains a 90,000-acre watershed from the broad emerald valleys of the Willapa Hills to the Columbia River, just 20 miles east of the Pacific Ocean in Southwest Washington. This is timber country—home to a few thousand people…

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Updates from the Field
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Jump-Starting a Coastal Forest
The Land Trust is improving habitat and contributing to a green economy through piloting restoration forest on the coast

Ask a Pacific Northwest timber crew to cut Douglas-fir first and leave spruce, hemlock, and alder standing, and you’re bound to get some quizzical looks. That was the case last October for Austin Tomlinson, Columbia Land Trust’s land steward on the coast, when he described the plan for a forest along the east edge of Willapa Bay. Tomlinson was standing on 100 acres of forest that the…

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Answers in the Trees
Understanding the role of Northwest forests in tackling climate change

More and more, we’re reading about how trees can be a solution to climate change. (We wrote about it in the previous issue of Fieldbook, in fact.) The topic has generated a number of questions about what trees can do, what they can’t do, and how we can best go about working with forests as a climate solution strategy. To answer these questions, let’s start with the…

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Trading Forested Places
Columbia Land Trust is spearheading an innovative pilot program to bolster southern Washington’s rural forest economy and further conservation of old forests.

County lines, state land borders, and other geopolitical boundaries rarely make for the riveting stories. Yet the lines we draw and redraw across the land can determine where we live, how we thrive, and how we care for wildlife and natural resources. It’s in these complexities that new opportunities for conservation sometimes arise. Columbia Land…

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