Nisqually Land Trust celebrates its latest conservation project

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By Jacob Dimond / [email protected]

The Nisqually Land Trust recently celebrated its latest conservation project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at McKenna Reach on the Nisqually River, located approximately 2 miles upstream from the bridge on State Road 507.

The North Cascades Buddhist Land Trust and Priory completed the final stage of a land transfer in late February, with the priory transferring 270 acres of “richly forested” land to the trust, a news release said. The land also includes over a quarter mile of Nisqually River priority salmon shoreline.

The property used in the project extends from Harts Lake Road and Brighton Creek. It is critical to the county’s plan to extract a salmon-blocking culvert that sits under the road, the statement said. Culvert removal will open up miles of native salmon habitat in the creek.

The terms of the transactions also include the creation of the first tall woodpecker reserve in Washington, the statement said.

“Over the past 36 years the Priory has done an incredible job of restoring and managing this landscape,” Land Trust chief executive Jeanette Dorner said in the statement. “We are deeply honored to become his next guardians.”

The priory donated property with a market value of at least $2.3 million to the trust, which is approximately 70% of the new property. Proceeds from their portion of land sold will support the Priory’s retreat centre. The retreat center is located on 5 acres of land that has been set aside along Hart Lakes Road, the statement said.

After founding the priory in 1986, Abbot Tim Schomberg led the program to acquire and restore the surrounding habitat.

“We are very grateful to Nisqually Land Trust for their willingness to take responsibility for the stewardship of this beautiful and diverse property,” Reverend Schomberg said in the statement. “We love this land and its wildlife very much, and it has been a joy to work on the property and watch it grow over the years. But now the best way for us to love it is to leave it and enable the Land Trust and its partners to take its management to a new level.

The property will support shoreline spawning habitats for all five species of salmonids native to the Nisqually watershed, including the threatened Chinook Salmon and Rainbow Trout.

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board provided a $600,000 grant to the waterfront portions of the property as part of its Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Program. Through its Nisqually Delta Environmental Mitigation Trust, the Nisqually Land Trust contributed $28,000 to the project.

Schomberg said the “distinctive call of the spectacular tall crimson-crowned woodpecker” is often heard near earlier buildings. Both male and female birds have been spotted.

“What magnificent birds they are,” said Joe Kane, Land Trust Special Projects Manager, who coordinated the project. “To be able to take even this small step to make sure they will always be with us – that’s our big chance and a real thrill.”

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