Water lilies on Black River at Black River Preserve
Water lilies on Black River at Black River Preserve © Harold E. Malde

Places We Protect

Black River Preserve

Washington

The river is flanked by robust riparian vegetation, creating crucial habitat for an impressive variety of wildlife, including neotropical birds

The Black River is an easy paddle through a landscape largely undisturbed by humans. With a lowland lake as its main source, this river shows a dramatically different face from others in the state, most of which are fed by melting snow. The Black River meanders through a vast, largely impenetrable swamp before becoming a free-flowing river, ultimately merging gently with the Chehalis River southwest of Olympia. The land on either side of its banks boasts one of the most extensive riparian environments in Western Washington.

Why TNC Selected this Site

In 1980, United States Fish and Wildlife Service identified the Black River as one of the most important fish and wildlife habitats in the state. It supports healthy runs of chum, chinook and coho salmon, as well as steelhead and cutthroat trout. The river is flanked by robust riparian vegetation, creating crucial habitat for an impressive variety of wildlife, including neotropical birds.

What TNC is Doing

TNC has assisted the US Fish and Wildlife Service with the protection of several parcels within the Black River unit of the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. This includes the Black Lake Preserve, which the Conservancy transferred to the Refuge. TNC has also purchased key properties in the central stretch of the Black River. These parcels, combined with property owned by Thurston County Parks and Recreation, form a nearly two-mile corridor of protected river.

What to See: Plants

Rising from the soggy ground are mixed stands of red alder and distinctive Oregon ash, a handsome hardwood tree that grows to a height of 50 feet. Pacific ninebark, red-osier dogwood and willow form a dense thicket beneath the trees.

What to See: Animals

The thickets that make foot travel so difficult create safe homes for swamp dwellers such as river otters, beaver and mink. Stilt legged waders, including the American bittern and great blue heron, hunt silently in the calm water at the river's edge, while the yellow warbler, cedar waxwings and other native songbirds flit among the branches on the banks.

No pets allowed on the preserve.