Urban Wildlife Habitat projects fund close-to-home places to play and explore nature. As our urban areas are increasingly expanding and densifying, these grants protect important fish and wildlife habitat within five miles of densely populated areas, creating green refuges that help keep our ecosystems healthy and provide places to enjoy nature right in our backyards.
The Bainbridge Island Land Trust (Land Trust) will use this grant to support the acquisition of the 45-acre Rockaway Bluff Preserve (Preserve), an exceptional forest lying upland of Rockaway Beach on Bainbridge Island, Kitsap County. The Preserve forms the core of an extraordinary forest featuring a high canopy of >4-foot diameter trees, includes wetland habitat, and provides a stunning first visual impression of the Island from the ferry. The Preserve serves as a refuge for many species, particularly birds, who are displaced from Pacific Maritime habitats lost to Puget Sound area development. With limited opportunities for conservation of larger parcels on the Island, this project protects the 6th-highest in quantified habitat values of unprotected parcels, and one of the last 8 of such parcels over 20 acres. The project permanently protects key parts of a complex habitat network (Map 7) and supports watershed functions and stability of a bluff. These lands went to market zoned for up to 21 homes (Map 13). The Land Trust proactively acquired these lands for the community as habitat and passive public use. The Preserve is located in the long plateau between two already conserved public parks – Pritchard Park and Blakely Harbor Park – providing an opportunity not only for conserving permanent habitat connectivity, resilient to a changing climate, but also ensuring an enjoyable pedestrian trail network, serving both Islanders and regional visitors.