Capitol Land Trust has announced the permanent conservation of 37.5 acres in the Boistfort Valley, about 13 miles southwest of Chehalis, WA. The property, now known as Stillman Creek Riparian Preserve, includes 6,800 feet of creek shoreline along Lost and Stillman creeks. CLT identified the parcel as a high priority for conservation because of its potential to benefit fish, primarily spring and fall Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, and winter steelhead.
One unique feature of the property is that it includes the confluence of Lost and Stillman creeks and is just above the confluence of Stillman Creek and South Fork Chehalis River. Confluences are the point where two bodies of water merge and the volume of water flow increases and are known as biodiversity hotspots.
As part of the property acquisition, CLT also acquired a senior water right equivalent to covering 55.5 acre-feet water a year. (An acre-foot is one acre covered to a depth of one foot deep of water.) CLT is partnering with Washington Water Trust to convert the water right to instream flow and ensure that water stays instream forever by putting the water right into trust.
“Purchasing a water right and protecting it instream with a donation to the Department of Ecology Trust Water Rights Program, yields multiple benefits,” explains Jason Hatch, Program Director at Washington Water Trust. “It addresses temperature concerns by leaving more water instream, improves upstream fish passage, and improves access to instream habitats that salmon depend on to rest for upstream passage.”
Providing fish a place to rest is also a goal of Lewis Conservation District and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) as they design the salmon habitat enhancement project that they will implement on this stretch of Stillman Creek. The project will include placing large pieces of wood in the creek, increasing channel complexity by excavating side channels that will be active during periods of high flow, and adding to previous restoration plantings.
“Conservation projects are known for their reliance on partnerships because we all have a vested interest in the health of our land and water. In a lot of ways, seeing this project come together is like many streams coming together in a confluence,” says CLT’s Executive Director Dave Winter. “Washington Water Trust, Lewis Conservation District, and WDFW bring together their unique areas of expertise, and Office of Chehalis Basin, Forterra, WA State Recreation & Conservation Office, and the Aquatic Species Restoration Plan bring the necessary funding to the table. And, of course, we could not have done this without the support of the Aust Family, whose connection to this land goes back generations.”
Check out this short video of Stillman Creek Riparian Preserve!