Returning chinook and winter steelhead will forever have a safe space to spawn within the Calawah River near Forks. A half-mile stretch of river known to foster a diversity of fish was part of a larger conservation project made possible thanks to a longtime Forks family. Inspired by the land they love and an appreciation for the ecological values their property provides, the family finalized conservation of their 34.5-acre property through a private donation with North Olympic Land Trust on Nov. 14.
“Through this gift, the donors are helping to preserve a healthy watershed and its fisheries, leaving a conservation legacy that benefits the community and the local economy,” Tom Sanford, Land Trust executive director, said.
In addition to spawning grounds for spring, summer and fall chinook and winter steelhead, the Calawah River provides habitat for coho, sockeye, fall chum and summer steelhead.
The newly acquired Land Trust-owned conservation area harbors a maturing second-growth conifer forest, including an exceptionally large sitka spruce alongside the river.
“Large trees with large, irregular canopies in close proximity to bodies of water can provide valuable habitat for iconic species such as bald eagles and rare species like marbled murrelets,” Philip Papajcik, Land Trust land manager, said.
Already at least one eagle nest is active on the property.
“By partnering with the Land Trust, we were able to help a local family meet its land-use goals while conserving habitat necessary to support biodiversity and water quality of an important river for the benefit of the community at large,” Sanford said.
Recognized for the diverse flora and fauna known to thrive within the area, the Land Trust aims to steward the land to ensure these qualities remain for generations to come.