Bainbridge Island Land Trust (BILT) has acquired a new shoreline nature preserve on our Island's north end. By protecting these properties, Bainbridge Island Land Trust (BILT) has achieved our objective of protecting habitat that supports multiple species of fishes and wildlife and a broad range of ecological functions, including protecting eel grass, beaches, and sources of sediment supply and transport.
The project involves two contiguous undeveloped parcels that include 4.3 acres of tidelands, ~550 linear feet of shoreline and associated nearshore habitat with significant feeder bluff activity, mixed sand-gravel sediment beach, significant large woody debris in the upper intertidal zone, intertidal sand bars, and continuous eelgrass habitats. The 7.5 acres upslope portion of the project site is covered with mixed mature second growth forest, some open meadow areas, a non-fish bearing intermittent stream and wetlands and has incredible views of Agate Passage and the Olympic Mountains. Through acquisition, the property will remain undeveloped, except for well planned passive use, including public shoreline access. The preserve is currently closed to the public without prior approval.
The preserve is a beautiful but sensitive site that has extremely high conservation values. It has been identified as highly functioning nearshore habitat through BILT's shoreline analysis, the Bainbridge Island Nearshore Assessment, and the newly released PSNERP shoreline analysis. It is north of and almost contiguous with permanently protected shorelines owned by Department of Natural Resources and directly across the highway to the east is the Land Trust's Miller conservation easement and a third of a mile further east is the Bloedel Reserve, providing for the permanent protection of over 38 acres and 3,000 linear feet of near-contiguous nearshore processes and functions.
The properties that comprise the project site are the highest conservation priority within the drift-cell associated with the project site, and for all 53 miles of Bainbridge Island nearshore. This reach (south of the project parcels) includes some of the most intact shoreline on Bainbridge Island and this acquisition can act as an anchor property for future protection projects in this area. The project site is classified as estuarine wetland (Dethier 1990), with a geomorphic classification of sand/gravel, bluff-backed beach (Shipman 2008). The subtidal area of the project site has continuous eelgrass meadows. The riparian area is composed of mixed conifer/deciduous forest canopy and understory (~87%), with the remaining area covered in shrubs and grasses. The riparian habitat is of high quality for a mid-successional forest, and has strong site potential for achieving even higher riparian values if protected and allowed to reach late successional phase. The riparian area extends from the beach/bluff interface, extending landward between 631 and 672 feet. There is a type 5 stream in the upper reaches of the property as well as seeps that drain onto the shore, providing an interface of fresh and salt water, which is recognized as an important attribute for fish and wildlife species diversity. Multiple studies (e.g., Duffy et al 2010) have determined that shoreline vegetation play an important role in providing insects to the marine food web, especially for ESA-listed Chinook salmon.
The project has been on West Sound Watersheds (WRIA 15) Habitat Work Schedule for several years.
BILT has successfully secured a substantial discount on the purchase prices from the seller, as well as over $250,000 in private donations to be used towards the purchase, stewardship and management of the property. BILT has successfully secured grant funding for the acquisition through the following pr
- Puget Sound Partnership - Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Program (PSAR) $810,000
- Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program (ESRP) $396,000
Why this property?
Bainbridge Island Land Trust's Conservation Plan specifically identifies the protection of our shorelines as a priority for our organization. This project specifically addresses that priority as well as the Puget Sound Partnership's (PSP) Puget Sound Action Agenda strategic initiative to protect and restore habitat to support salmon recovery.
Strategy B Protection: "Permanently protect priority nearshore physical and ecological processes and habitat, including shorelines, migratory corridors, and vegetation particularly in sensitive areas such as eelgrass beds and bluff backed beaches."
Protect 10% of Bluff-Backed Beaches. PSP will promote acquisitions, easements, or other protective covenants to permanently protect at least 10% of bluff-backed beaches with high sediment supply or other priority nearshore habitats facing potential shoreline development pressure by June 2014.
This property has potential as a shoreline nature preserve, connecting visitors with hiking, picnicking, scenic views, shoreline access and stellar low tide beach exploration/ education opportunities. This property may also provide an important link to a non-motorized trail along Hwy 305, creating one of the early segments of a long desired non-motorized trail corridor extending from the Agate Pass Bridge to the Winslow ferry terminal. This, in turn, will eventually be part of a larger region-wide trail currently in the planning stages known as the Sound to Olympics Greenway Trail, a continuous non-motorized trail from Bainbridge to the Hood Canal, where it would connect with the Olympic Discovery Trail. And via the Bainbridge ferry, that entire regional trail system would be connected to the Mountains to Sound Greenway that runs between Seattle and the Cascades. So should the preserve and trail development we're proposing come to fruition, our new shoreline preserve would be positioned to be destination stops for that regional trail system once it has been stitched together.