Conserving land along our waterways protects important habitat and helps keep our rivers healthy, clean, and more resilient to drought. Riparian Protection projects conserve and restore fresh and saltwater habitat while protecting fish habitat. In doing so, the grants help provide our families, farms, and fisheries with clean water across the state.
Capitol Land Trust acquired 74 acres of biologically sensitive and culturally significant estuary, near shore and Riparian Protection habitat on Oakland Bay, located in Mason County. They also restored the existing 48-acre golf course located on the property, converting it to native salt marsh, Riparian Protection forest, and other natural ecosystems appropriate to site hydrology, soils, geology, and climate, for priority species recovery. Restoration entailed removing 1,400 feet of supratidal dike along the shoreline to reconnect approximately 13 acres of saltmarsh; constructing tidal channels in the newly connected salt marsh to increase and diversify tidal habitat; constructing side channels along Johns Creek to increase off-channel habitat; removing bank armor and adding large wood along Johns Creek to improve instream habitat complexity; removing buildings, bridges, pathways, and other infrastructure related to the former golf course across the property; planting a wider, more functional Riparian Protection zone along Johns Creek; and planting a native plant forested buffer along the new tidal channels. In addition, the surface water right owned by the former golf course was retired and placed in the Washington Water Trust program in the Dept. of Ecology. When combined with the three other protected estuarine complexes on northern Oakland Bay, this property supports multiple priority habitat types (Riparian Protection, freshwater wetland, in-stream, Puget Sound near shore) that provide crucial habitat for multiple priority species including Chum, Chinook, and Coho salmon, steelhead, Cutthroat Trout, forage fish, migratory and resident shore birds, waterfowl, land bird species, and shellfish. The primary purpose of the project was habitat protection and restoration.