Already nearly a month into 2018, we thought a look back at the past year would help to remind us where we’ve been and what, together, we’re building toward. Last year was full of exciting opportunities, successes and unprecedented challenges.
Here are just a few of the highlights and takeaways from 2017:
Winter 2016/Spring 2017
- Historic Ward Farm Conservation – Landowners of the 159-year-old Historic Ward Farm finalized a conservation partnership with the Land Trust in early February. The effort to conserve the 60-acre farm located in the SequimDungeness Valley was a multi-year process that relied on state and community funding.
- Shoreline protection – 1/3 mile of shoreline along the North Olympic Peninsula is better protected. By working with the Land Trust, landowners increased protection along marine bluffs essential to the existence of the 5-mile Dungeness Spit. The newly conserved property, coupled with the landowner’s existing properties, equate to 116 conserved acres encompassing wildlife habitat, wetlands, forest and shoreline.
- Conservation Breakfast – The 9th annual Conservation Breakfast in March was a great opportunity to gather with our partners and celebrate our community’s strides to responsibly care for local lands. Among the humbling turnout of nearly 200 guests, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and its Natural Resources team was recognized for their dedication to the health and sustainability of the North Olympic Peninsula with the “Out Standing in the Field Award.” Together, the community raised $15,000 for land conservation!
- Pysht River restoration continued – Led by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in partnership with the Makah Tribe, restoration at the 74-acrePysht River Conservation Area was set to begin in 2017, but got delayed due to time constraints associated with fish use and funding. However, materials for the project were successfully staged at the Conservation Area and once complete a total of 12 complex wood structures will be installed within the Conservation Area to help restore instream and floodplain habitat conditions in order to facilitate salmon recovery, improve water quality and reduce risk of flooding on State Route 112. In the end, nearly 2 miles of the Pysht River will be restored and 36 engineered logjams will have been installed in collaboration with multiple landowners via this restoration effort.
- Building for tomorrow – We were honored and thrilled to share that in late July the Land Trust received a three-year Core Support Grant from the Satterberg Foundation. This grant provides the Land Trust with an amazing opportunity to right-size the organization to meet our community’s land conservation needs while maintaining the organization’s stability.
- Finding health & wellness in nature — As part of the “Love Where You Live” campaign aimed at inspiring a shared and responsible community land ethic, we collaborated with Olympic Nature Experience, the Dungeness River Audubon Center, and yoga instructor Julia Buggy to host an all outdoor yoga and nature walk summer series. Thirty-four participants embarked on educational walks where they learned about varying topics from native plant identification and use to conservation methods. An outdoor yoga class followed each walk allowing participants to explore stretching techniques while deepening their connection to self and the outdoors.
- Adding to the team – In late summer, Jennifer Calhoun joined the Land Trust team as our Finance Director. Jennifer splits her position between both North Olympic Land Trust and our partner in Jefferson County: Jefferson Land Trust. There is a strong partnership between the two Olympic Peninsula land trusts, and Jennifer reflects this ongoing collaboration and support between the two organizations.
- Connecting people to place — Thanks to a grant and associated support from the Land Trust Alliance, we began steps to deepen the visitor experience at the 280-acre Lyre Conservation Area. This project is part of a larger organizational effort to help community members deepen their relationship with the land in a manner that paves the way to responsible landuse actions. As a result, you can enjoy educational signage, a bench to rest and relax in nature, and a picnic table to share in hopefully countless meals with friends and family in a stunning landscape. These subtle enhancements to the Area are just some of the many ways we aim to help connect people to place. Love where you live!
- National recognition – Building on 27 years of successful land conservation and stewardship across the North Olympic Peninsula, equating to more than 3,300 conserved acres for farms, fish and forests, North Olympic Land Trust successfully renewed its land trust accreditation. As part of a network of only 389 accredited land trusts across the nation, this recognition reaffirms the organization’s commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work. Click here to learn more about the accreditation process.
- Capital budget delayed – Washington State Legislature failed to pass a $4.3 billion state capital budget* in late July. Within the budget were multiple land conservation projects to be spearheaded by the Land Trust. This unprecedented challenge stalled our abilities to move forward with both conservation opportunities in the Elwha and in eastern Clallam County.
* Washington lawmakers didn’t approve the budget until late Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018.
- Dungeness River Festival – We connected with roughly 900 local students about the importance of stewarding the place we live through balanced land use at the annual River Festival hosted by the Dungeness River Audubon Center.
- Milestone met at 18th annual Harvest Dinner – On September 17th we had the honor of recognizing WSU Clallam County Extension with the 2017 Farmer of the Year award. For more than 100 years, the Extension has worked to strengthen and sustain our local farms. Also, we’re thrilled to share that together, our community raised more than $60K for farmland conservation at this year’s Harvest Dinner!
- Family Farm Day –What would have been the 20th Clallam County Farm Tour, became the Family Farm Day at the Dungeness Valley Creamery on Sept. 30. We collaborated with owners of the Creamery and WSU Clallam County Extension to host a “farm day” provide a great opportunity for the community to get outside and explore a local raw milk dairy and meet with other local farmer. About 885 people came out despite heavy rain. Farm Tour 2017 was consolidated into Family Farm Day this year to accommodate construction projects on U.S. Highway 101 and Old Olympic Highway.
- Rally representation – A couple members of the Land Trust team attended the Land Trust Alliance‘s 2017 Rally (annual, national land conservation conference) in Denver Co. It was an incredible experience, filled with inspiring stories of land conservation happening across the country. It also provided an array of new tools for bettering our own conservation efforts back home on the beautiful North Olympic Peninsula.
- Bringing aboard a Development Director – Working to right-size the Land Trust to best meet our community’s land conservation needs, and with the support of the Satterberg Foundation, we had the opportunity to hire Dean Miller as our Development Director.
- Conservation planning – In the midst of creating the Land Trust’s 2018-2023 Conservation Plan, we hosted a series of public meetings to glean community feedback on the developing plan. Upon completion (by or before March 2018) the plan is intended to prioritize local land conservation efforts across Clallam County. It will be reviewed and hopefully approved by the State’s Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which has a number of categories that the Land Trust can apply for project funding in. Additionally, the Conservation Plan will help guide the organization over the course of the next six years and help us work toward the goals of our 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. Click here to learn more about the areas prioritized by the plan.
- Annual Meeting – At our 27th Annual Meeting, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to honor the Land Trust’s skilled Stewardship Crew with the Gary Colley Legacy Award. The Award is presented to those that have proven instrumental to the Land Trust’s continual growth and evolution. The Stewardship Crew is a critical component of the organization and without their dedication the Land Trust wouldn’t be able to responsibly manage its conserved lands, which is at the heart of the organization’s mission.
- 2017-2021 Strategic Plan released – By early November, we published our 5-year Strategic Plan, which lays out a path for action and establishes the foundation for the Land Trust’s future work to support and inspire balanced land use and responsible stewardship across the North Olympic Peninsula via three core strategies. Click here to check out the Strategic Plan.
Despite the challenges brought on by the lack of a 2017-19 State capital budget, the local community enabled the Land Trust to accomplish a lot in 2017. From the rocky shoreline to the outstretched fields of farmland, we have a lot to be thankful for here on the North Olympic Peninsula. Now, with a capital budget approved (as of mid-January 2018), we’re looking forward to moving ahead with conservation opportunities aimed at protecting key salmon habitat and keeping working farmland working. Additionally, we’re in the midst the exploring multiple, large conservation opportunities that could provide great recreational opportunities as well as protect some of the matchless qualities that make the North Olympic Peninsula such an amazing place…Stay tuned!