Capitol Land Trust Eld Inlet Acquisition Conserves 1.25 Miles of Puget Sound Coastal Habitat

More than a decade ago, Capitol Land Trust identified lower Eld Inlet’s coastal habitats as a strategic conservation priority. Now, ten years of investment have culminated in the conservation of six miles of Eld Inlet marine shorelines and more than 600 acres of surrounding upland habitat, spanning 17 individual sites.

Completion of the Eld Inlet Coastal Preserve project, the Trust’s latest Eld Inlet success, is the result of extraordinary collaboration and an agreement between Anderson & Middleton Company and Capitol Land Trust, with support from many other partners. Anderson & Middleton is a family-owned agri-business company involved in forestland management, table grapes, wine grapes and wine production (click here and here). Anderson & Middleton was founded in Aberdeen, WA in 1898 and today is headquartered in Hoquiam, WA. Capitol Land Trust began working with cousins Jim and Rick Middleton more than three years ago to explore the potential for purchase of the site. Rick Middleton and his family live on Eld Inlet and the Middletons were personally invested in the outcome of this effort.

“It was a pleasure to work with Eric Erler and Capitol Land Trust on this project. Our company owned this property for many years and we can attest to its unique and special character. Capitol Land Trust will be a great steward of this property going forward. From our perspective, this was a win-win for all of us,” said Rick Middleton.

The site is located along the eastern shoreline of lower Eld Inlet (Mud Bay), just south of Capitol Land Trust’s Randall Property and the Highway 101 Bridge. The property encompasses 1.25 miles of high-quality, undeveloped Puget Sound estuarine shoreline, 40 acres of saltmarsh and freshwater wetlands, and 15 acres of mature forest. McLane Creek, recognized for its hearty, native salmon runs, flows through the property and into Puget Sound. The vegetation on the Preserve consists of saltmarsh and wetland emergent grasses near the shoreline, and native coniferous and hardwood forests. The property also conserves an area of great cultural and historical importance to the Squaxin Island Tribe.

The new Preserve provides intact habitat for five salmon species and anadromous coastal cutthroat trout. Large numbers of juvenile salmon smolts produced in McLane Creek use the waters along the property for feeding and transitioning to life at sea. Forage fish species and numerous waterfowl, shorebird, waterbird and landbird species also take advantage of the property’s unique coastal habitat.

The site also contains a rare mineral salt deposit which is an important source of nutrients for the Band-tailed pigeon, a Bird of Conservation Concern as identified by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Approximately 350 Band-tailed pigeons visit the property in early morning every day from late June to September. There are fewer than 100 documented mineral sites in Oregon and Washington frequented by these pigeons.

Capitol Land Trust wishes to thank all of the project partners, especially the former landowners, Anderson & Middleton Company, for their support and commitment to seeing the project to completion. Generous funding support and project oversight was provided by the WA Department of Ecology and the US Fish and Wildlife Service through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, and the WA Recreation and Conservation Office through a Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant. According to Jeanne Koenings of the Department of Ecology, “Protecting the shorelines of Washington State, particularly Puget Sound, is a job that the Department of Ecology and local governments can’t do on our own. Partnering with groups like Capitol Land Trust is crucial to our success. Thanks to the high quality projects Capitol Land Trust works on, Washington State has been able to secure more funding from the US Fish & Wildlife Service and NOAA than most other coastal states.”

Finally, completion of the Eld Inlet Coastal Preserve project would not have been possible without generous private contributions from Taylor Shellfish Farms, the Squaxin Island Tribe, Margery Sayre and other Capitol Land Trust members and supporters.

Eric Erler is Capitol Land Trust’s Executive Director.
Reprinted from Issue 49, Summer 2010, of Capitol Land Trust News

Help support the Capitol Land Trust’s efforts right here on the peninsula between Eld and Totten inlets by contributing to the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Click here to learn more about this unique partnership between the Capitol Land Trust and Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Posted in Squaxin Island Tribe, Uncategorized.