Black River Riparian and Wetland Conservation Intitiative Phase II

Project #: 100835  –   Updated: May 31, 2013

Project Summary

"This Programmatic Project Proposal represents Phase 2 of an extensive, landscape-scale conservation strategy that will protect and restore more than 5000 acres of significant floodplain wetland habitats and associated uplands located within the Black River watershed. The Black River is a tributary of the Chehalis River, the second largest watershed in Washington. The wetland habitats make up one of the largest undisturbed freshwater wetland systems remaining in all of Puget Sound. The river's diverse habitats include prairie oak woodlands, sphagnum bogs, wet prairies, alder bottoms, and w...

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Location (by county):
Grays Harbor County (WA), Thurston County (WA)

Watersheds:
Upper Chehalis

Congressional Districts:
WA District 10, WA District 06

Bird Conservation Regions:
Northern Pacific Rainforest

USFWS Regions:
Pacific Region

Project size:
822.0 acres

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Tract E: Black River II NAWCA Yes
Tract H: Black River II NAWCA Yes
Tract F: Black River II NAWCA Yes
Tract G: Black River II NAWCA Yes
Tract D: Black River II NAWCA Yes
Tract B: Black River II NAWCA Yes
Tract C: Black River II NAWCA Yes
Tract A: Black River II NAWCA Yes

Full Project Description

"This Programmatic Project Proposal represents Phase 2 of an extensive, landscape-scale conservation strategy that will protect and restore more than 5000 acres of significant floodplain wetland habitats and associated uplands located within the Black River watershed. The Black River is a tributary of the Chehalis River, the second largest watershed in Washington. The wetland habitats make up one of the largest undisturbed freshwater wetland systems remaining in all of Puget Sound. The river's diverse habitats include prairie oak woodlands, sphagnum bogs, wet prairies, alder bottoms, and wetland conifer forests. The watershed contains critical spawning and rearing habitat and migration corridors for steelhead and cutthroat trout and coho and chinook salmon. At least 150 species of migratory birds, including waterfowl and neotropical songbirds, use the wetland and riparian habitats. It is also one of only 3 places where the Oregon spotted frog is known to occur in Washington. The Oregon spotted frog is a State listed endangered species, and a candidate for Federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. It is home to federally threatened bald eagles, marbled murrelets, as well as the endemic state species of concern Olympic mudminnow. In 2007 the first phase of this conservation strategy permanently protected more than 680 acres and enhanced more than 800 acres of quality habitat to benefit waterfowl and other wildlife species. Phase II of this initiative is even more significant and will permanently protect more than 800 acres through fee acquisition and enhance more than 1,100 acres.

Subdivision of properties and constant pressure from real estate development threatens these critical freshwater wetlands. This proposal will remove these pressures by protecting these lands in perpetuity and managing them for long-term productivity of the fish and wildlife that depend on these wetlands.

This project will allow partners to protect, restore, and enhance approximately 1,937 acres of wetlands and associated uplands spanning over 15 miles of floodplain and wetland habitats, with an additional 1,200 acres addressed through non-matching funds. The Nature Conservancy, South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust and The Capitol Land Trust, in cooperation with Thurston County funding, will protect approximately 497 acres of critical wetland habitats and associated uplands through fee-title acquisition and perpetual conservation easements. Washington State Parks will protect 70 acres through fee-title acquisition. The Chehalis Tribe will protect 220 acres through fee-title ownership. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will protect 200 acres through a permanent conservation easement. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will protect 35 acres through fee acquisition. Ft Lewis will provide $100,000 for habitat enhancement through the Army Compatible Use Buffer program. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide $95,000 for restoration of over more than 1,000 acres through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) and the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP).

In addition to permanent protection that this project entails, it will also create more wetland habitat through enhancement for waterfowl adjacent to the Black River. The restoration project will further enhance the values of the properties for waterfowl....

...All acquired lands through this proposal will be protected in perpetuity and managed for long-term productivity of wetland dependant migratory birds....

...This proposal is a natural extension of the Chehalis River Floodplain and Estuary Wetland Conservation project that was funded in 2006. The Black River is a major tributary of the Chehalis River, and the property protected in 2006 is less than 2 miles “down river” from the Black River project area. This project will complement the significant conservation efforts that have been accomplished and supported by NAWCA in the Chehalis floodplain and Gray’s Harbor. The project is also Phase II of the Black River Riparian and Wetland Conservation Initiative. Phase I was funded in 2007. Tract A of Phase II of this project is contiguous with the 125 acres of habitat directly protected through NAWCA funding in 2007....

...Approximately 1,000 acres in the proposal are publicly owned by Thurston County and Washington State Parks. The remaining properties are privately owned, some of which have conservation easements associated with them. The uses on the public properties will not change. The private properties that will be subject to conservation easements will have restrictions placed on them that extinguish development rights and require the property to be maintained for conservation....

...Phase I of this project was initiated by The Nature Conservancy, which held a public meeting at the local grange to inform landowners of its work in the region in March of 2005. Multiple contacts were made from that initial meeting and The Nature Conservancy developed a working group for the phase I NAWCA proposal in 2006, which included agencies, non-profits, and local landowners. Phase II of this project has continued with that momentum. A working group began regular meetings for phase II once notification of funding for phase I was given. In 2008, five private landowners will participate in the project along with local, state, and federal agencies and non-profits. All of the private landowners involved in phase one of this project have been contacted and are willing sellers. In addition, Thurston County held a public meeting which was televised on Thurston County TV to discuss the project and vote on supporting the project through the use of $200,000 in conservation futures funding."
---From The Nature Conservancy's 2008 proposal to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant program

Goals and Targets

Primary motivations:

Conservation Mission
The Capitol Land Trust. Capitol Land Trust seeks to maintain the coexistence of people, wildlife and the natural habitats that sustain us all, by working with groups and individuals at the local level to protect and conserve important lands. The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.

Primary goals:

Implement a landscape-scale conservation strategy that will protect and restore more than 5000 acres of significant floodplain wetland habitats and associated uplands located within the Black River watershed.
Progress:

The project succeeded in protecting 608 acres of property in perpetuity.
Acquisition Summary Details (Tracts A, B, D, E, I, M):
Black River Farm (Tract A, 211 acres) was purchased in fee by The Capitol Land Trust in 2012
with a yellow book appraisal of $530,000. Tract B (21 acres) was purchased in 2008 by
Washington State Parks with state funding. A yellow book update on Tract B confirmed value
of $1,700,000 and was completed in 2011. Tract D (220 acres) was protected by the Chehalis
Tribe in 2009 with tribal funding for $670,000 and a yellow book appraisal update was
completed in 2011. Tract E (35 acres) is a non-match property protected by USFWS as part of
the Black River Wildlife Refuge in 2008 for $86,000. A yellow book updated appraisal is
currently being conducted to ensure this value. Tract I (56 acres) was purchased in 2010 by The
Capitol Land Trust with Thurston County funding for $300,000 and a yellow book appraisal
update was completed in 2012. Tract M (65 acres) was the final property to be protected by The
Capitol Land Trust in 2012 for $271,000. See Appendix [in Final Programmatic Report, attached] for Technical question #4 and #5 for
planned versus actual table for details."

Engage new partners. Phase II of this project includes two new partners that have never participated in a Standard NAWCA project before: The South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust (SSCFLT)), which is also contributing more than 10% of the grant request as non-federal match for fee title purchase of 50 acres as a match contribution to this project. Ft. Lewis is contributing $100,000 in enhancement funding for tracts associated with this project. Finally, two of the private landowners who participated in Phase I of the project are providing additional match for Phase II of the project by protecting and restoring their lands with conservation easements.
Public benefit: Multiple partners will manage approximately 822 acres of the new acquisition as permanently protected conservation areas. The protected areas will provide opportunities for environmental education, hiking, bird watching, biking, photography, sustainable agriculture, and a variety of other activities. One of the properties will also contain a portion of a future “Rails to Trails” project which will connect with the current trail system to form close to fifty miles of trails in Thurston County. Finally, more than 250 acres of Tract A that is permanently protected though this project will have explicit public access for hunting and fishing in cooperation with WDFW, and will provide a new public access point on the Black River.
Progress:

Public access is allowed on more than 1,000 acres of public property that is part of this project. Additional properties that are being acquired will remain in private ownership and will have different levels of access. Properties with donated conservation easements will not be required to have public access. Properties owned by The Nature Conservancy will have public access, which will involve use of trails and wildlife viewing. The future Thurston County Gate to Belmore trail will dissect Tract A of the project and will provide public access on the property along a paved rail road grade. The acreage protected by USFWS in the Black River refuge will be maintained and managed by USFWS. Finally, more than 250 acres of Tract A that is permanently protected though this project will have explicit public access for hunting and fishing in cooperation with WDFW, and will provide a new public access point on the Black River.

Improve wildlife habitat. The Black River watershed has extensive value for waterfowl and is identified as a target area within the Pacific Coast Joint Venture Strategic Plan Washington State Component. The PCJV plan recommends that 3000 acres of additional habitat be secured within the Black River. This project directly contributes to that goal by protecting river channel and floodplain habitats that will benefit a broad range of waterfowl and other wetland and riparian associated species. The project area supports a winter population of at least 15,000 ducks and geese, including nine priority species. The parcels included in this proposal are threatened by real estate development. Development has the potential to reduce or eliminate waterfowl use. Protecting these critical habitats will significantly benefit waterfowl by removing the threat of development and introducing management for long-term waterfowl productivity... As many as 3,000-5,000 American wigeon and 2,000-3,000 Ring-necked Ducks use the Black River floodplain for resting and feeding during fall migration. Wood ducks are rare in winter but are one of the most common species of nesting found in forested wetlands, sloughs and riparian areas. The wood duck utilizes these types of habitat on the project site for nesting. Up to 200 Canvasback ducks utilize the project area during migration and wintering periods. All of the “other priority species” listed will benefit greatly from protected and restored wetlands throughout the proposal areas. The majority of wetland restoration efforts will be focused on re-establishing a riparian buffer along sections of the Black River and its associated tributaries. This will greatly enhance habitat for neo-tropical bird populations, salmon, and other priority species. Other restoration activities include the control of invasive species, such as Scotch broom and reed canary grass. Finally ponds will be created over portions of Tract A using the natural hydrology of the site.

Consistent with plans:

Other
Pacific Coast Joint Venture Strategic Plan (1996 Update), Washington Partners in Flight Conservation Strategy (2000), U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, North American Waterbird Conservation Plan
Watershed Plan
The Chehalis Basin Salmon Habitat Restoration and Preservation Plan, The Chehalis Basin Watershed Management Plan
Conservation Plan
Nisqually Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan, The Nature Conservancy Black River Conservation Action Plan,

Targeted habitats:

    • Aquatic
    • Forests and Woodlands
      • Deciduous Forests and Woodlands
    • Wetlands and Riparian Habitats

Targeted species:

  • Dusky Canada Goose Branta canadensis occidentalis
  • Northern Pintail Anas acuta
  • Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
  • Greater Scaup Aythya marila
  • Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  • Oregon Spotted Frog Rana pretiosa
  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  • Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons
  • Brant Branta bernicla
  • Wood Duck Aix sponsa
  • Redhead Aythya americana
  • Canvasback Aythya valisineria
  • Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
  • Common Eider Somateria mollissima
  • American Wigeon Anas americana
  • Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii
  • Streaked Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris strigata
  • Northern Red-legged Frog Rana aurora
  • Western Gray Squirrel Sciurus griseus
  • White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
  • Oregon Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus affinis
  • Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator
  • Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
  • Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus

Actions

Project Actions
Conservation easement Show/Hide details
Land acquisition for conservation (fee simple, etc.) Show/Hide details
Restore or re-establish wetland hydrology Show/Hide details
Plant native riparian, wetland or aquatic vegetation Show/Hide details
Plant native trees and/or shrubs, herbs, forbs, grasses Show/Hide details
Control invasive plants Show/Hide details

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   Yes

Please describe your monitoring activity.

Easement restrictions will ensure that wetland habitat health and integrity are maintained. The easements will be monitored annually by The Capitol Land Trust.

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Organization

The Nature Conservancy
(Non-Governmental Organization)

Primary Contact

Lora Leschner
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Partners

  • Washington State Parks
  • WA Dept of Fish and Widlife
  • Chehalis Tribe
  • South of the South Community Farmland Trust
  • Capitol Land Trust
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Pacific Coast Joint Venture
  • Thurston County
  • Thurston County
  • Fort Lewis

Project Photos

Wood_duck_black_river_phase_ii_nawca_detail

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