SEATTLE — The Nature Conservancy and Pope Resources today announced that the Conservancy has purchased 383 acres of forested uplands within the Dabob Bay Natural Area along Hood Canal in Jefferson County.
The land was purchased from Pope Resources (Nasdaq: POPE) and will be transferred to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be managed as part of the Dabob Bay Natural Area.
The acquisition, consisting of two pieces of property, protects mixed forests of Douglas-fir, western red cedar, red alder and big-leaf maple on the steep slopes surrounding Dabob Bay, one of the least developed shorelines along Hood Canal and the Puget Sound. It also helps connect coastal forest and freshwater systems to the marine waters of Hood Canal.
Dabob Bay is one of the highest quality salt marsh estuaries in Puget Sound and is vital to orcas, Chinook and chum salmon, forage fish such as sand lance and smelt, and many species of shorebirds. It also is an important breeding ground for shellfish such as the native Olympia oyster as well as commercial species. There are six family-owned shellfish companies on the bay, supporting about 25 jobs. Protecting these forests supports these jobs by ensuring that clean water will continue to flow off the hillsides into the bay, vital to the health of the aquaculture industry.
“I want to thank Pope Resources for its cooperation in making this acquisition possible,” said Karen Anderson, the Conservancy’s Washington director. “To restore Puget Sound, we need clean water, healthy forests and natural beaches. With this acquisition, we’re able to protect forests that are essential to the water quality in this natural nursery for shellfish, and ultimately in Puget Sound.”
“We are delighted to partner with The Nature Conservancy and the DNR on this acquisition within the Dabob Bay Natural Area,” said David L. Nunes, President and CEO of Pope Resources. “When the Natural Area boundary was expanded in 2009, we agreed to delay planned logging to give our conservation partners time to raise the money necessary for this purchase. This transaction is another example of our commitment to working with conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy to support acquisition of timberlands for conservation. With the Dabob Bay sale, the company has committed nearly 20,000 acres to permanent conservation since 1998. Of that total, over 4,000 acres have been preserved in Hood Canal through 12 land sales and a 2,300-acre conservation easement sale in Tahuya. These transactions are great examples of a “win-win” outcome for both conservation and industry interests. As a company, we are proud to be able to balance our economic objectives with important public values, such as protection of wildlife habitat, view corridors and water quality.”
Anderson said that this acquisition complements the Conservancy’s 25-year commitment to conservation in Dabob Bay. In 1986, the Conservancy established a conservation easement on one of the three coastal spits in the bay. In addition, the DNR established the original boundary of the Dabob Bay Natural Area to protect the other two coastal spits and surrounding salt marsh and forests.
In 2009, the Natural Area boundary was expanded, giving DNR the ability to work with willing landowners to acquire land or conservation easements for addition to the Dabob Bay Natural Area. More recently, the Conservancy has acquired shoreline that was being marketed for residential development, including 30 acres of coastal forest. Jefferson County’s Broad Spit Park is also part of this effort for shoreline habitat conservation
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.