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.
Great Peninsula Conservancy will use this grant to conserve the lower four miles of the Tahuya River in Mason County. The Tahuya is the largest river flowing into the east side of Hood Canal, and benefits from substantial DNR ownership in the upper watershed. The lower four miles is privately owned, mostly in unsubdivided large parcels, and is important as the watershed’s only spawning and rearing habitat for ESA-listed Hood Canal Summer Chum and Chinook salmon. The project represents an extremely rare opportunity to conserve the entire lower mainstem of a large undeveloped river system in Puget Sound.Covering 172 acres and a mile and a half of riverfront and tributaries, this phase of the project targets fee simple (145 acres) and conservation easement acquisitions (27 acres) on four properties. In addition to conserving important existing spawning and rearing habitat for ESA-listed Hood Canal Summer Chum and Chinook, the project enables future phase restoration of one of the highest recovery priorities in the watershed. Removing bank armoring on targeted property will reconnect over 40 acres of floodplain and side channel habitat. This addresses excessive peak flows and sedimentation identified as critical limiting factors for salmon recovery in the watershed. The impacts of protection and future restoration will have lasting effects both on the target properties as well as improving riparian processes in the lower four miles of the river.