The Chehalis Basin is the second largest watershed in Washington State, second only to the Columbia River. Capitol Land Trust works with the Chehalis Tribe and other partners throughout the Chehalis River watershed, with a specific focus on the lands draining to the Black River.
The Black River starts in Black Lake, drains waters from the Black Hills, and merges with the Chehalis River to the southwest of Olympia, eventually emptying into the Grays Harbor Estuary. In 1922, the Black Lake Ditch was dug, connecting the Black River to Percival Creek – a creek that drains to Puget Sound. This makes the Black River the only waterway that drains to both the Pacific Coast and Puget Sound!
Land along the Black River contains one of the largest remaining wetland systems in western Washington, with extensive areas of unique, undisturbed swamp, containing prime habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. The Black River supports robust runs of chum, Chinook and coho salmon, in addition to steelhead and cutthroat trout.
In comparison to the rest of the Chehalis River watershed, people are developing land within the Black River sub-basin at a fast rate. Development in sensitive areas, such as the wetlands along the Black River, damages and disrupts nature’s benefits, including the natural purification of water and protection from floods.
Capitol Land Trust and our members have conserved more than 3,500 acres, and 39.5 miles of river shoreline, across 25 sites in the Chehalis watershed, including oak woodlands, forests, unique wetlands, working ranches and farms. Over 2,100 of those 3,500 acres are located in the Black River Watershed.