The Ellsworth Creek Preserve is about thinking big. The Nature Conservancy purchased the entire watershed to protect old-growth forest, salmon, amphibians, birds and more. Working with scientists and partners, we are restoring thousands of acres of forest and miles of vital streams.
Stands of old-growth Sitka spruce, Western red cedar and other conifers, some over 800 years old, remain here in a landscape that has endured habitat fragmentation and decades of logging. Marbled murrelets still nest high in the tree canopy and black bear, cougar and elk roam the forest floor. Flanked by abundant trees, Ellsworth Creek provides critical spawning habitat for coho and chum salmon.
The Nature Conservancy has developed a comprehensive forest landscape restoration plan that will preserve existing old-growth forest and discover the best ways to restore previously logged stands into functional forests. The results will be shared to ensure that forest managers throughout the Northwest and around the globe benefit from the latest restoration science.
The Conservancy's 7,600 acre Ellsworth Creek Preserve links with the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge along more than five miles of Willapa Bay shoreline. Combined, these two ownerships provide over 15,000 acres of forested habitat that benefits the marbled murrelet, a threatened seabird that nests on large branches in old-growth forests.
The Nature Conservancy partners with the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge to implement common forest management goals and share strategies and results. Working together, nearly $1 million in restoration grants has been secured.
Visiting the Willapa Bay Area
Because Ellsworth Creek is an active restoration project, the Conservancy property is difficult to access. However, nearby protected lands—all a part of the greater Willapa ecosystem—are open to the public.
- The Willapa National Wildlife Refuge neighbors the Ellsworth Creek Preserve. The Refuge headquarters are 13 miles north of Ilwaco on U.S. Highway 101. The refuge includes a beautiful grove of 1000-year-old Western red cedar on Long Island, reachable only by boat. Additional old-growth forest at Teal Slough, near the refuge headquarters, was protected with assistance from the Conservancy in 1999.
- Cape Disappointment State Park is nearby and offers camping, hiking and 27 miles of ocean beach.
- The Willapa Bay Trail provides information regarding kayak access around the bay.
- Long Beach Visitors Bureau covers the peninsula. The towns of Ilwaco and Long Beach have accommodations and services.