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Near the very northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula, a stand of 70-foot-tall red alders welcomes visitors to the Foulweather Bluff Preserve. Just beyond this stand is another grove, where second-growth western red cedar and western hemlock share space with the occasional Douglas-fir. Foulweather Bluff's most vital natural feature is its brackish marsh, a sheltering, moist haven for insects, fish, birds and mammals. The combination of forest, marsh, and 3,800 feet of beach makes the Foulweather Bluff Preserve one of the most valuable wildlife havens on the Kitsap Peninsula.
Two miles northwest of Hansville on Kitsap Peninsula
The marsh is as close to a pristine coastal lagoon as can be found in the entire Puget Sound basin. Once common in the wet bottomlands of Western Washington, old-growth forests containing red cedar have declined significantly during the 20th century. These cedars, protected from future logging by The Nature Conservancy, will eventually dominate the preserve's forest.
This preserve was established in 1967, when the Rawson family donated the land to the Conservancy and established a trust fund for the long-term management of the preserve. Today the preserve contains 100 acres of marsh, beach and woodland. It stands as a testament to the vision of Dr. Rawson and a committed group of landowners who ensured wildlife a continuing home at Foulweather Bluff.
Dedicated volunteers answer visitors’ questions and monitor this site for inappropriate uses, such as shelling, driftwood removal, fires and camping. Stewardship on the site includes removal of non-native plants such as bull thistle, ivy and holly.
More than 300 species of plants are found in the preserve. The brackish coastal marsh is home to more than 50 plant species – a vibrant mosaic of wetland plants, with common spike-rush and seacoast bulrush at one end and hard stem bulrush and cattail at the other.The lowland forest, with its lush native understory of ocean spray, salmonberry, sword fern and salal, supports a wonderful variety of critters.
Coastal water birds are seen in all seasons, especially November to March when the wintering species are found. Seen off shore are goldeneyes, scoters, buffleheads, wigeons and many more. The lowland forest supports many different bird species: winter wrens inhabit the forest floor, red-breasted nuthatches work the tree trunks, chestnut-backed chickadees forage for insects on the conifer boughs. The call of the pileated woodpecker resounds through the trees. In the brackish marsh, great blue herons silently stalk their prey while bald eagles and osprey soar overhead.
The Foulweather Bluff Preserve is open year-round, during daylight hours only. Please stay on the marked foot trail through forest when walking to the beach. The tidelands are part of the preserve and visitors are not permitted to take any materials from them, including shells.