Seal Slough: Part 2
With its latest acquisition on Willapa Bay, Columbia Land Trust is building on a large-scale, collaborative conservation effort to protect habitat of international importance.
Columbia Land Trust today announced the conservation of crucial shoreline and forest habitat along Willapa Bay in Pacific County, southwest Washington.
On June 13th, the Land Trust acquired 190 acres and nearly a mile of shoreline on East Willapa Bay, located just south of Lynn Point in Pacific County, Washington. This acquisition is located directly south of 374 acres the Land Trust conserved in December 2016.
“By conserving this land, we’re protecting water quality vital not only for a healthy bay, wetlands, and forest streams, but also for Willapa Bay’s iconic oyster industry,” said Nadia Gardner, Columbia Land Trust’s conservation manager in the coastal area.
The 560 acres now held by the Land Trust support a broader, collaborative effort to protect the wetlands and forests surrounding Willapa Bay. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and Forterra have all conserved land in an area with significance extending far beyond southwest Washington.
Willapa Bay is the second largest estuary on the U.S. Pacific Coast and one of the most important shorebird habitats in all of North America. Just last month, it was named a Site of International Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. Shorebird species such as the red knot rely on the bay’s tidal mudflats along an incredible migration route from Arctic breeding grounds to Tierra Del Fuego in South America.
The area is more than a haven for migratory shorebirds. Wetlands, streams, and forests provide habitat for salmon, steelhead, eulachon (smelt), waterfowl, black bear and Roosevelt elk.
Columbia Land Trust purchased the property from Hancock Timber with a generous loan from The Conservation Fund, along with support from the Washington Recreation & Conservation Office and the Seattle Audubon Martin Miller Fund. The Land Trust is grateful to both the seller and its funding partners for making this significant conservation success possible.
“We are thrilled to support Columbia Land Trust in acting quickly to acquire this high-quality wildlife habitat,” said Caitlin Guthrie, Land Conservation Loans Associate with The Conservation Fund. “This was an exceedingly rare opportunity to protect a mile of Willapa Bay shoreline for the benefit of future generations.”
Moving forward, the Land Trust plans to restore the upland areas to their historic, natural forest conditions, protecting tidal wetlands, sloughs, and streams. Restoration activities could include weed control, native planting, culvert removal and replacement, and selective forest thinning. In time, restored forested habitat could support old growth-reliant species, including the endangered marbled murrelet.