As Washington continues to grow, many of our most beautiful areas are threatened with development. In addition, native ecosystems are receding, and important wildlife habitat and migratory pathways are being cut off. The Natural Areas category helps combat this by funding projects that protect wildlife habitat and rare geological features while also preserving public access for back-country recreation.
This goal of this project is to provide long-term protection for rare salt marsh communities by acquiring roughly 11 acres of habitat into the Skookum Inlet Natural Area Preserve (NAP). The project site is located in Little Skookum Inlet in Mason County, Washington, approximately six miles from the City of Shelton. Skookum Inlet NAP protects two salt-marsh ecosystem types along with their associated plant communities, which are important high-quality examples of wetland ecosystems in southern Puget Sound: 1) Low-salinity high marsh, and 2) Moderate-salinity high marsh. The site also protects tideflats and second growth riparian forest buffer. Chum and coho salmon and resident cutthroat trout spawn in Elson Creek, the small tributary protected within the preserve. The federally threatened winter steelhead is found in Skookum Creek, the major freshwater tributary to the inlet. The NAP provides opportunities for environmental education and research. It is also an important reference site for conservation and restoration of salt-marsh ecosystems in southern Puget Sound the NAP .