North Olympic Land Trust and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe have signed an agreement with a local landowner to jointly purchase and conserve 104 acres along the Dungeness River.
“The River’s Edge project gives our community an exciting opportunity to invest in a land purchase that will simultaneously conserve precious local farmland and restore valuable floodplain habitat,” states Land Trust Executive Director Tom Sanford. The River’s Edge property is bordered on the west by the Dungeness River and along the east by Towne Road. Directly to the north are 38 acres of active dairy farmland that were permanently conserved by North Olympic Land Trust and Clallam County in 2008.
Upon purchase, the Land Trust will conserve 64 acres of the River’s Edge property as farmland, helping to preserve the strong agricultural tradition of the Dungeness Valley. 40 acres of wetter ground along the river will be reconnected with the Dungeness River floodplain after planned levee setback. This renewal of historical riparian habitat will support salmon recovery and boost overall ecosystem health. Chinook salmon, summer chum, bull trout and steelhead are among the fish that utilize the river and are federally listed on the Endangered Species Act. Public access will be maintained through a walking path along the relocated levee, where community members will be able to experience and enjoy the border between farm and river.
“We feel fortunate that the property owner is willing to work with the Tribe and Land Trust, giving the community a chance to purchase the property for farming and habitat before listing it on the public market,” says Sanford. “This is a huge opportunity for the community to demonstrate their commitment to local land conservation.” If the Tribe and Land Trust are not able to purchase and conserve River’s Edge, it will most likely be sold as 11 residential home sites.
Thanks to funding secured by the Tribe and Land Trust, $1 million dollars is already dedicated toward this purchase, which has an estimated total cost of $1.4 million. Between September and December, 2019, the Land Trust was able to raise over $407,000 through the support of over 250 generous community donors. This gives the Land Trust and partners the confidence and ability to move forward with the first phase of the project – the purchase of 104 acres of farmland and habitat. Stay tuned for more details as the project moves along!
Please enjoy this “River’s Edge” video by local photographer John Gussman.