We’re excited to ring in the New Year with the announcement of two new preserves in the lower reaches of Eld Inlet, also known as Mud Bay. These successes complement the 325 acres and several miles of shoreline already conserved on Eld Inlet.
The first success is West Lower Eld Preserve. The 30-acre preserve hosts marine and freshwater wetlands, upland forest, and 3,375 feet of unmodified shoreline. Lower Eld Inlet has been an area of focus for conservationists due to its ecological richness. The mixing of salt water from Puget Sound with fresh water from McLane Creek and Allison Springs creates an environment where many different types of wildlife thrive.
Bears and elk are known to frequent this property and the adjacent Lower Eld Preserve, conserved in 2009. Over 130 bird species visit the mud flats, including bald eagles who come to feast on the salmon returning to McLane Creek and Allison Springs each fall. The offspring of those salmon are primary beneficiaries of CLT’s preserves along the inlet because the unaltered shoreline provides places for juvenile salmon to hide from predators as they acclimate to life in the marine environment.
After traveling north between West Lower Eld Preserve and Lower Eld Preserve, these juvenile salmon will swim under Highway 101, past Randall Preserve, and under Mud Bay Road, before reaching our next conservation success: Fox-Dobbs Preserve.
Fox-Dobbs Preserve is 15 acres directly south of Triple Creek Farm Conservation Easement and McLane Point Preserve.
In 1975, Russ Fox and Carolyn Dobbs moved to this property to raise their family and “get back to the land.” They had both grown up in big cities yet had also spent a lot of time at their grandparents’ farms, so with a little bit of experience and a lot of persistence, they sought to be as self-sufficient as possible.
They also both studied urban planning during an era when new thinking was emerging about how communities can be planned in a way that concentrates development to leave space for agriculture and conservation. This background, along with a desire to build community, led to decades of community service on non-profit boards and policy committees, while they both taught at The Evergreen State College. It also informed their approach to managing the land that is now the Fox-Dobbs Preserve.
Over the years, they worked with Thurston Conservation District to create management plans for the property. They worked to improve the soil of the meadow that had previously had the topsoil removed and fought to keep the invasive plants at bay. CLT will continue this work by planting conifers in the meadow to help along the natural revegetation that is already taking place and removing the remaining fence along the boundary with McLane Point Preserve to allow wildlife to move more easily.
Permanently conserving the land had been a long-term goal for Russ and Carolyn, who passed away in 2014.
“Carolyn and I, we knew we were going to do everything we could to keep the shoreline undeveloped. It wasn’t a new idea. I’m happy now that these few more acres are returning land that was very communal land before white settlers arrived back to a community ownership. I think it shows how land trusts, and non-profits in general, can provide a healthy alternative to land being either in government ownership or private ownership.” – Russ Fox
Many thanks to Russ for his service to our community over the years, for his commitment to conserving this land, and for providing “land match” that enabled the conservation of West Lower Eld Preserve, as well.
Thank you to our project partners!
Steamboat Conservation Partnership
Squaxin Island Tribe
Taylor Shellfish Farms
US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Environmental Protection Agency
WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
WA Salmon Recovery Funding Board
WA Dept. of Ecology