Woodard Bay area expands by 90 acres —

Woodard Bay area expands by 90 acres

John Dodge, Feb. 6, 2008, The Olympian

The largest remaining private property eligible for expansion of the Woodard Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area has been secured.

Addition of the 90 acres of former pasture lands, a freshwater pond and mixed mature forest between the Chehalis Western Trail and Schincke Road brings the conservation area to almost 800 acres, nearly double the original 400-acre site purchased by the state Department of Natural Resources from Weyerhaeuser Co. in 1988.

The creation of DNR's natural conservation area program was approved by the state Legislature in 1987 to preserve fish and wildlife habitat while also providing a place for passive recreation, research and education.

Woodard Bay, one of the four original conservation areas statewide, features five miles of shoreline at Woodard and Chapman bays on Henderson Inlet.

The property features an old pier and pilings used by Weyerhaeuser as part of a log sorting and rafting operation that ceased operations in 1984. Today, the abandoned pier and pilings are home to the largest bat and harbor seal nurseries in South Sound.

The mature forest, tidelands, wetlands and streams support bald eagles, a heron rookery, waterfowl, fish and mammals.

The Trust for Public Land purchased the 90-acre parcel for $2.4 million with the support of state grants through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, then deeded the property to DNR.

"This is a beautiful, tranquil place where people and nature can come together," said Trust for Public Land project manager Rinee Merritt.

The Woodard Bay site several miles northeast of Olympia is open in daylight hours, including a road/trail that leads to a Woodard Bay overlook and a forested loop trail that is closed until May 15 to protect nesting bald eagles.




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