Conserved in 1996
- 160 acres located along the western flank of Crawford Mountain in southeastern Thurston County, near Tenino.
- The property consists of extensive woodland, wetland, and riparian corridor in the alluvial plain of Cozy Valley, which is an important part of the headwater tributary system of Scatter Creek.
- The wetland, creeks, and upland forest provide habitat for innumerable aquatic and terrestrial mammals including, rough-skinned newts and many frogs, black-tailed deer, black bear and raccoon. A myriad of birds inhabit the property including goldfinches, sparrows, red-tailed hawks, pileated woodpeckers and a portion of the property has permitted selective-cut harvest logging.
Thank you to the following partners:
- Gabrielle Heertje and Manfred Nettek
- Heernet Foundation Inc.
- Chanele Holbrook
- WA Department of Natural Resources
- Thurston County Conservation Futures Fund
CLT Strategic Conservation Goal Achieved:
- Conserve wetlands, riparian areas, and associated upland forests.
Notes from the Field: Heertje Easement
by Shelley Kirk Rudeen (Issue 23 Spring 1997)
The first glimpse of Cozy Valley shows how aptly it is named. Wet meadows nestle between forested hills; wisps of cloud drift among the trees and settle over tawny grasses. The valley lies east of Tenino at the headwaters of Scatter Creek. Gabrielle Heertje-Nettek and Manfred Nettek have recently protected 160 acres of the valley with a Capitol Land Trust conservation easement.
I visit the valley in early January, the air full of something between fog and rain, the temperature a balmy 48°. It seems like ideal conditions after the ice, melting snow and pounding rain that greeted the new year. A farm road takes me past the house and barns, which are not part of the easement, and up into forested hills. Moss-cloaked maples and alders hoary with lichens mingle with fir, hemlock, and cedar.
Water saturates the soil and swells the mosses. It weights the fronds of sword fern so that they form elegant drapes on the hillsides. The air is filled with the sound of water gathering in rills, tumbling in creeks, dripping from branches. A Winter Wren trills its song into this liquid concerto; frogs add their off-key tenor. I follow a creek upstream to two ponds in the forest, created years ago by a previous owner and recently restored. Rough-skinned newts appear in the water; each waltzes slowly up from the bottom of the pond, grabs a gulp of air and swims to the bottom again.
Upstream from the ponds the creek is carried in a steep ravine. Well-rooted, undisturbed vegetation and intact woody debris protects the creek and the slump-prone soils. A Varied Thrush whistles from a tree top; a few moments later it appears on the forest floor, foraging among leaf litter and the winter-ragged foliage of wild ginger. Winter Wrens flit along the stream and disappear into a tangled orgy of vine maple. Kinglets call from the canopy and Rufous-sided Towhees buzz in the underbrush.
A flash of red catches my eye and I strain unsuccessfully for another glimpse. Too small for a Pileated Woodpecker. Too much red for a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker. Perhaps it is a Red-breasted Sapsucker, though the Audubon bird list warns me that they are uncommon here in winter. Pileated Woodpeckers are most certainly in residence, however; their tell-tale rectangular holes adorn several trees in this forest. The ravine widens to reveal a grove of silvery alders and a small squirrel munching on cones. My gaze follows the bits of cone that fall and scatter on the forest floor and I realize that the tracks of deer and Roosevelt elk are strewn there as well.
Wet, open meadows lie over the hill. A Roughed Grouse flushes at my approach, but I am more interested in the figure lurking in the meadow. With slow movements and its neck poised to strike, a Great Blue Heron stalks its prey. It seems oddly out of place; perhaps its foraging is testimony to the wetness of the meadow, or maybe small mammals are its quarry.
As the meadows gather rain released by the hills they form the headwaters of Scatter Creek, where the owners have invested in yet another habitat restoration project. Newly planted trees will one day provide a forest canopy to help keep stream temperatures just right for native cutthroat trout, and will provide the detritus so vital to a healthy stream food web.
Although a host of winter residents have shown me the diversity of habitats offered here, a reddish blush in the alder canopy is a reminder that spring is on the way. Returning songbirds, waking bats, and emerging flowers can be sure that an undisturbed Cozy Valley will be waiting for their arrival.