Pocket Estuary on Totten Inlet Conserved

Capitol Land Trust’s collaboration with the Steamboat Conservation Partnership has resulted in the conservation of 34 acres on Totten Inlet, one of the most significant shorebird habitats in Washington’s inland marine waters. The purchase includes a small pocket estuary and 1400 feet of undeveloped shoreline on the Steamboat Island Peninsula known locally as Adams Cove. Most of the new preserve is covered by mature forest, about half of which is forested wetland. Several small freshwater streams flow into the estuary.

The tireless dedication of Gayle Broadbent-Ferris directly resulted in Capital Land Trust’s efforts to acquire this spectacular property. We are forever indebted to her encouragement.

The Capitol Land Trust thanks their partners who made this project possible: Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Taylor Shellfish Farms, Squaxin Island Tribe, Steamboat Conservation Partnership, Dave & Joanne Schuett-Hames, WRIA 13-14 Lead Entity Coordinator, ADESA Environmental Services, Michael & Lorrie Asker, William & Bonita Asker, Michael & Tracy Evans.

Click here to read The Olympian’s coverage of the purchase.

Click here to learn more about the Steamboat Conservation Partnership and how your support will help to identify and conserve habitat right here, in our own neighborhood.

Photo by Steve Kelso

 

Elizabeth Hummel benefit concert for SCP

Elizabeth Hummel Leads Local Musicians in Successful Benefit Concert

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Reva Wittenberg (left) and Elizabeth Hummel, onstage at Prosperity Grange

This last Friday night marked the second annual concert to benefit the Steamboat Conservation Partnership between the Capitol Land Trust and Griffin Neighborhood Association. Area residents gathered at the Prosperity Grange to hear a live concert by musician Elizabeth Hummel with John Nasan, Reva Wittenberg, Carl Dexter and Brian Castillo. It took about all the chairs the grange supplies, plus seating on benches along the walls, to contain the audience. They heard two sets of music and intermission comments from Eric Erler, Executive Director of the Capitol Land Trust.

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Event poster by Brian Castillo

The event represented a collaboration between local musicians, business, and area residents. Elizabeth Hummel, who lives on Steamboat Island, approached the Griffin Neighborhood Association with an offer to play the benefit after she learned about existence of the Partnership. Local musician Brian Castillo, who plays with Hummel, produced a truly beautiful poster for the event. Pacific Stage donated the sound and lighting for the event. Music 6000 staffed the sound board during the concert. Beer was donated by Fish Brewing Company. The Costco Warehouse in Tumwater made a cash donation to help offset the purchase of snacks. Volunteers – GNA Board members, spouses and area residents – worked to set up and then kept the supply of snacks and beverages flowing to the audience who turned out to hear the concert and to support the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

The goal of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership is to conserve land critical to the wildlife and natural beauty of this area.

Elizabeth Hummel made a special contribution, in the form of a song especially for the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

Visit the GriffinNeighbors YouTube channel for this and other videos.

Last year, the Griffin Neighborhood Association joined with folk band Gaelica to present the first benefit concert for the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. At that time, the Association hoped to sponsor an annual event, but had no idea as to how to attract another musical guest. It was an unexpected pleasure to be contacted by Elizabeth Hummel, for this year’s benefit. The Board of the GNA is gratified by the effort undertaken by Elizabeth and her talented fellow musicians to make the second annual concert a reality.

Interested in hearing more of Elizabeth Hummel’s music? Elizabeth Hummel “The Cauldron” and Click here for more CDs by Elizabeth Hummel

For more coverage of this event, click here to visit our Facebook page. Do you have photos or video of Friday’s concert you would like to share? “Like” us on Facebook and post them on our wall. Or, email us at gna@griffinneighbors.org.

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Thank you, Pacific Stage, for your support!

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Thank you, Fish Brewing, for your support!

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Thank you, Music 6000, for staffing the sound board during the event.

Considering the cost benefits of conserving; Collaboration key to maintaining value of natural money makers

It’s not always better to do something rather than nothing at all – or at least that’s what proponents of land conservation are trying to teach businesses, government officials and the general public.

It can be a hard concept for some people to understand. But doing nothing to particular plots of land rather than developing them can sometimes save millions, if not billions, of dollars from being spent later on habitat restoration. And many plots of natural land are not just saving money, they are generating dollars.

“It’s easier for us to perceive value out of things we sell or do,” said Eric Erler, executive director of Capital Land Trust. “We are all responsible for the precarious state of the natural environment. Every square inch of land has a function.”

Groups like Capital Land Trust work with landowners who want to conserve, often in an effort to maintain an important function of their property or the overall environmental health of the area.

Examples can be seen around the South Sound. Land owners have signed easements to guarantee their properties will continue to provide things like clean water to the Puget Sound or a safe haven to an endangered species.

And while these deals generally do bode well for Mother Nature, land conservation is not just feel-good environmental work. Many businesses depend on the health of the South Sound’s natural environment, especially Puget Sound, for their success.

Economic impact

Erler and other specialists can cite why land conservation is needed in specific cases, but for those folks who are more interested in numbers, a report from Earth Economics shows that the natural systems of the Puget Sound Basin could be valued between $300 billion and $2.6 trillion.

“Valuing the Puget Sound Basin: Revealing Our Best Investments” shows that nature as an economic asset delivers a flow of benefits between $9.7 billion and $83 billion in economic value every year.

The goods and services provided include drinking water production, storage and filtration, flood protection, pharmaceuticals, food, building materials, recreation, waste treatment, climate stability, habitat, biodiversity, nutrient cycling and aesthetic value.

Education

Capital Land Trust has conserved about 55 properties in Thurston, Mason, Lewis and Grays Harbor counties. But Erler said it’s the educational side of the business that is challenging.

“What we do is extremely complex,” he said. “It doesn’t lend itself to a sound bite.”

When a business or property owner signs a land conservation contract, they are generally promising that nothing will ever change as far as how that land is maintained. That differs substantially from a company or group promising to “fix” a piece of land.

“It is much more efficient to identify (lands) and conserve them in that state,” said Erler, adding that being reactive rather than proactive can be costly.

Erler said an example of people responding too late can be seen at Chesapeake Bay, where money continues to be spent to restore habitat and water quality.

Collaboration

Land use is often a divisive issue, but Erler said part of Capital Land Trust’s strategy is to work in collaboration with all interested parties, whether they be shellfish companies, the state Department of Ecology, endangered species groups, large farming corporations or a private land owner.

“Collaboration across the various sectors is the only conceivable way we can all manage the great gift we have in front of us which is the natural resources,” said Mike Mosman, senior vice president of land and resources at Port Blakely Tree Farms. “Land trusts provide that central brokerage for making the whole thing work.”

Port Blakely Tree Farms is a family business that actively participates in conservation.

“If we were to manage with a short-term view we wouldn’t last very long,” he said. “We are far better off to address the resource needs with responsibility so that among other things it makes sense and our social license to operate continues.”

Forever and ever

Perhaps one of the most intimidating factors for people considering a land conservation agreement is that there is no expiration date. The contracts last forever.

Charlene and Tom Wynne of Wynne Farm said it’s nice not to worry about what will happen to their land when they are no longer in control of it. But the couple admits the three-year process was a “huge undertaking.”

Wynne Farm will celebrate its 100th anniversary during 2016 and Tom said the easement on the property has not affected using the property as a working agricultural and timberland farm.

Even though the Gordon family’s dairy farm has been a long time haven for trumpeter swans, when owner Jay Gordon was approached to conserve about 55 acres for the species, he was hesitant.

Gordon’s family has owned the farm for 140 years and he said this type of easement made him feel like in some ways he would be adding another partner to the farm – or at least part of it.

However, Gordon worked with Capital Land Trust, a local trumpeter swan group and U.S. Fish and Wildlife to reach an agreeable land easement contract.

“Part of it was a business decision, part was an ethics decision and part was it didn’t really take any skin off our backs,” he said.

While some property owners do not receive any financial consideration for conserving their land, Gordon was paid for what his property lost in its estimated sale value and he used the money to help pay for construction of a new barn.

Because Gordon Dairy and Wynne Farm are operating businesses, it was important to both owners that the land easements not interfere with their livelihoods.

Erler said whenever a contract is being negotiated, the trust tries to determine what the owner’s goals are for the property.

Typically there is room in a contract for landowners to set their own rules. For example, some like to leave some breathing room for new houses to be built. Others like to prohibit any new building.

“When we conserve a place we do it in a number of ways,” Erler said. “It’s all (about) what’s appropriate for the land.”

– Breanne Coats

Reprinted with permission from South Sound Business Examiner
Originally published August 23, 2010
Writer Breanne Coats can be reached at bcoats@BusinessExaminer.com.

Steamboat Conservation Partnership Reception, December 6

Please join us at a reception on Sunday, December 6th, from 3 – 5 PM, in the Prosperity Grange (3701 Steamboat Island Road), to learn about the Steamboat Conservation Partnership and the Capitol Land Trust’s activities to protect land in our area. Wine, soft drinks, coffee and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

The Steamboat Conservation Partnership is a unique relationship between the Griffin Neighborhood Association and the Capitol Land Trust. The Partnership is designed to finance a portion of the Land Trust’s operating expenses in the Eld Inlet and Totten Inlet watersheds. These activities encourage the voluntary action of land owners to set aside rural tracts of farmland, forests, wetlands and coastal areas as conservation parcels left in their natural state.

The Steamboat Conservation Partnership provides us with an incredible opportunity to preserve some of the special lands right here in our own neighborhoods.

The Capitol Land Trust has a number of exciting projects in our area. Our contributions have helped fund the Capitol Land Trust’s efforts to encourage the voluntary action of land owners to set aside rural tracts of farmland, forests, wetlands and coastal areas as conservation parcels left in their natural state.

Eric Erler, Executive Director of the Capitol Land Trust, will review the progress they have made to date. There will also be a slide show, maps and literature on the properties set aside by the Trust.

Visit the Griffin Neighborhood Association website at http://www.griffinneighbors.org/scp to learn more about the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Visit the Capitol Land Trust website at http://www.capitollandtrust.org/ to learn more about the Land Trust.

If you can attend the reception, please RSVP by phone at 866-1214 or by email at s.lundin@comcast.net.

Feel free to bring friends who are interested in the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

We hope you will be able to attend the reception, celebrate what our donations have accomplished, and socialize with our neighbors.

Capital Land Trust Preserves 530 Acres Near Matlock

Capital Land Trust has announced it will be protecting more than 530 acres of forested wetlands near Matlock through a purchase agreement with the previous owner, Green Diamond Resource Company.

“This project is the culmination of five years of work and results in protection of some of the region’s most intact salmon and wildlife habitat,” Capitol Land Trust executive director Eric Erler said. This from an article by John Dodge in The Olympian.

The property includes 2 miles of Decker Creek, a tributary to the East Fork Satsop River.

The mosaic of wetlands, streams and forests provides habitat for river otter, black bear and elk, as well as spawning and rearing habitat for coho, summer and fall chinook, chum, winter steelhead and cutthroat trout.

The Griffin Neighborhood Association congratulates Capital Land Trust on this important acquisition and holds this as an example of the kind of preservation work which compelled the Association to form the Steamboat Conservation Partnership with CLT.

For more information on how you can support the Steamboat Conservation Partnership, click here.

Summer Picnic Features Good Food, Good Neighbors, and Good News

2009summerpicnicLocal residents filled Prosperity Grange this last Saturday to attend the Griffin Neighborhood Association’s annual Summer Potluck Picnic. Many brought salads, desserts, and snacks to add to the burgers and hot dogs cooked up by GNA Board member Beau Altman. Board member and past GNA President, Gary Goodwin, acted as Master of Ceremonies for a program that included comments by County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela, Representative Fred Finn and Capitol Land Trust Executive Director Eric Erler. Around the perimeter of the dining room were arranged displays from the GNA, the newly-formed Steamboat Conservation Partnership, the GNA’s emergency preparedness project, and the Puget Sound Restoration Fund.

Karen Valenzuela described her principal goals as a County Commissioner. Of particular interest to many in attendance is her interest in determining whether it is appropriate to assess impact fees on development in unincorporated portions of Thurston County. Impact fees are typically assessed in order to offset the costs of building out infrastructure required to support higher population densities. Presently, the County does not assess impact fees. Although the Growth Management Act and other regulations seek to focus development in urban areas, the absence of impact fees could make it cheaper for developers to build outside the Urban Growth Areas. By assessing impact fees, the County could take an important step to “level the playing field,” Valenzuela said, and remove an incentive to creating urban sprawl in our region.

Valenzuela, who was appointed by the Governor to fill out the term of Commissioner Bob Macleod, is running for election this November. Ballots for the primary election will be in the mail within weeks. Click here to read a piece regarding her candidacy. She has both a Democratic and a Republican opponent, who we’ve profiled previously on this blog.

Invoking a quote by Otto von Bismarck (“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”), local resident, GNA Board Member and 35th Legislative District Representative Fred Finn described the last legislative session. The focus of the next legislative session is likely to continue to be the budget, Finn said.

Among the bills Finn successfully shepherded to passage, this last year, was a bill which re-emphasizes the use of reliable, high-quality science in Puget Sound cleanup. Another bill authorized the use of safe, alternative refrigerants in a motor vehicle’s air-conditioning equipment, and another rescued Mason’s County McKernan fish hatchery from closure. A fourth bill guaranteed tougher punishment against those who damage to or steal from Christmas tree farms.

After introductory remarks by Dave Schuett-Hames, President of the GNA, Eric Erler, of the Capitol Land Trust, stepped up to describe the creation of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. This is an exciting opportunity for local residents to fund efforts by the Trust to identify property right here on the Steamboat Peninsula – activities to conserve special natural areas in the Steamboat Peninsula region and that maintain connections between these lands through corridors useful for wildlife movement. Examples of special natural areas include marine shorelines, estuaries (including pocket estuaries), freshwater streams and riparian habitat, prairies, wetlands, and upland forests.

Erler described a pocket estuary, on Totten Inlet, which has already been identified and which the Trust is currently working to preserve. This property has been described in a recent article that appeared in the Olympian.

The editorial board of the Olympian also wrote a fine piece regarding the creation of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership in today’s newspaper. Click here to read that editorial.

Many thanks to the Prosperity Grange, for allowing us to hold this year’s picnic in their facility. Thanks also to the many neighbors who brought food and contributed their time, their bar-b-que grills and their ice chests to this worthy and very enjoyable event.

Steamboat Conservation Partnership Formed to Protect Wild Areas Here at Home

SCP-logoThe Griffin Neighborhood Association is forming a unique partnership with the Capitol Land Trust to help conserve special natural areas in the Steamboat Peninsula area.

Capitol Land Trust is an Olympia-based nonprofit group with an impressive track record of working amicably with private land owners to protect key scenic and wildlife areas. During the past twenty years, the trust has permanently secured more than 3,000 acres and ten miles of South Sound shorelines through purchase or easement agreements.

By investing in this partnership with the land trust, Steamboat residents will ensure that the land trust will focus considerable time and expertise on exploring the best ways to protect wild shorelines, forests, meadows and wetlands particularly critical to the environmental health, rural charm and beauty of the area.

To help make the partnership as successful as possible, Steamboat residents are being asked to raise $15,000 a year for the next five years to help cover land trust costs. Any donations will be welcomed, but the Griffin Neighborhood Association is particularly seeking generous donors willing to commit as much as $300 a year. This opportunity is unlike most tax-deductible donations in that the money you give goes directly toward your community.

The land trust can be trusted to use the money wisely. It is a small, efficient organization with a reputation for making big things happen. The benefits of its work can already be felt out here, seeing how it has protected more than a thousand acres in the Eld Inlet watershed, including critical areas in the Wynne Farm, Schirm Farm and Sanderson Cove areas. Click here to see local areas already protected by the Capital Land Trust.

The land trust operates in a friendly, non-confrontational way that simply works. As a result, it has what few environmental organizations have — the blessings of both Republicans and Democrats. One of its most outspoken advocates is former Secretary of State Ralph Munro. Click here to read the piece entitled, “Capitol Land Trust: A Model That Works.”

As a show of enthusiastic faith in this new Steamboat Conservation Partnership, Griffin Neighborhood Association board members will pool and present an initial round of donations to the Capitol Land Trust at the July 11 summer picnic at the Prosperity Grange. Eric Erler, the land trust’s executive director, will be speaking at the event and available to field questions.

To learn more about the land trust go to www.capitollandtrust.org. To request more information about the Steamboat Conservation Partnership, contact Griffin Neighborhood Association members Peter Reid (867-0919), Elizabeth Roderick (866-9797) or Jack Sisco (866-0240). Click here to visit our information page.

UPDATED: Click here to read an article in the Olympian regarding the creation of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

Image above from the web site of the Capitol Land Trust.