washington state

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

We're extremely grateful to receive a $5 Million gift from Sid and Diane Gibbins.  It's an amazing honor to witness HOW our members ensure that Washington remains evergreen for generations to come.

Read this touching letter below from their daughter Karen and her tribute to her parents leaving a lasting legacy for nature in our beautiful state.


As we move into the next stage of distributions from my mother’s estate, I’m thinking more of my parents and their vision for preserving some of Washington’s last best places - the ones to which they gravitated as a young couple in Washington in the early 1950s just starting out in their own adult lives and the ones they cherished in their final years.

They saw the beauty and the benefits of those open spaces. And they felt strongly enough to look to The Nature Conservancy to partner in giving others, both the young and the old, a chance to continue to experience in perpetuity what they did during their short stay on this planet. Many weekends, they would pack a rudimentary lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, and pack their young family into their camper to travel deep into the forest from city streets along unpaved roads to get closer to nature. There, they shared their love of nature with their family, on hikes to areas of natural beauty that still resonate with me today.

Sid Gibbins, a native New Yorker who grew up in Los Angeles, would bring his 35 mm camera to add to his voluminous collection of slides detailing a world of flora and fauna that he would keenly see all around him in spectacular Northwest settings. Diane, daughter of a career military officer, grew up in locations as diverse as Hawaii and Georgia, earned a master’s degree at the University of Washington, where she met Sid, who was earning his doctorate in chemistry. Diane was a strong supporter of protecting animals in the wild and the environment. Sid would die in Bellingham in 2005 at age 78. Diane would follow in 2015 at 86.

I’ve followed the work of the Nature Conservancy in Washington State and - as my mother and father were - am impressed with its goals, philosophy and commitment to preservation of land that Sid and Diane Gibbins — my beloved parents — felt so strongly about retaining for future generations. As we move forward, it’s important to keep their vision in mind. And the Conservancy concept of providing documentation to Gibbins family members, myself and Laura Gibbins, would be acceptable to us at this time to provide us with a list of places that have been preserved by the posthumous donation of Sid and Diane that we can show to future generations of their descendants.

Important Timberlands Preserved at Ellsworth Creek

Acquisition of inholding adds to big conservation project near Willapa Bay

Written by Robin Stanton, Media Relations Manager
Photograph by Bridget Besaw

The Nature Conservancy has purchased 79 acres of timberlands that are completely surrounded by the Conservancy’s existing Ellsworth Creek Preserve, filling in an important piece of the puzzle in restoring this watershed that feeds into Willapa Bay.

The property has big timber and is visible from Highway 101. Stands of old-growth rainforest are nearby, and endangered marbled murrelets have been identified in the area. All these factors make it an important piece of land for conservation.

“This acquisition is a milestone in our work to restore rainforests on the Washington coast,” said Mike Stevens, Washington director for The Nature Conservancy. “At Ellsworth Creek we’re advancing the science of forest restoration in an entire watershed. I look forward to seeing the forest filled with towering moss-laden hemlocks, spruce and cedars, and streams alive with salmon.”

The Conservancy began buying land in the Ellsworth Creek watershed in 1998. With this latest acquisition, the Conservancy now owns and manages more than 8,000 acres adjacent to the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. The Conservancy also partners with the Refuge for restoration on refuge lands.

The preserve includes pockets of real old-growth forest as well has forests that have been harvested for timber. The Conservancy is modeling different methods of restoration to discover what will most quickly put the forest on the path toward old-growth conditions. Read more here.

Timber fallers working on restoration thinning at Ellsworth Creek preserve on the Washington Coast. © Chris Crisman

The property was sold to the Conservancy by Vic and Debbie Boekelman. “We bought this land 26 years ago as an investment for our retirement,” said Vic Boekelman. “Over the years the Conservancy has bought the land around us, and we’ve been really impressed with the work they’ve been doing to manage and restore the forest. This is a win-win for us, to know that the forest will be here and we can bring our grandchildren out to see it.”

The Boekelmans have always permitted hunting on their property, and it will continue to be open for hunting in compliance with state fish and wildlife regulations, as is the rest of Ellsworth Creek Preserve.

Funding for the acquisition and ongoing stewardship of the property was provided by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant and a generous private donor.

Exploring the Gem of the San Juan Islands

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Our Membership Trip to Yellow Island Preserve - Day 2

Photography by Cameron Karsten, Northwest Photographer

Set amidst Washington’s scenic San Juan Islands, Yellow Island is a one-of-a kind location. Owned by The Nature Conservancy, the island offers unique beauty, an example of conservation in action and an escape from everyday life. Each spring it is bathed in fields of wildflowers, tumbling down hillsides towards the water.

We traveled by charter boat from Anacortes to the island, while learning about the ecology of the region from Nature Conservancy scientists. Members were able to roam the island, take photos and ask questions. 

Yellow Island may be a crown jewel in the work we do in Washington, as evidenced by this mesmerizing slideshow! It’s certainly a spectacular example of the beauty of nature and an inspiration to keep up our hard work around the state.

See the slideshow from Day one of the trip!

Not yet a member? Join the Nature Conservancy today!

Cameron Karsten is a coldwater surfer, cultural traveler, professional photographer/videographer, amateur craft brewer. Looking for the new, the unique and the challenging, having been raised in the Pacific Northwest, where cold water and wet mountains converge. Began a career as a travel writer, from the age of 19 to 25 backpacking around the world, beginning in SE Asia, thru Europe, down East Africa, into the Creeks of Nigeria, and along the beaches of Central America. View more of Cameron Karsten’s work: CameronKarsten.com

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Washington snowpack smallest in 35 years

This year our state is facing a big water challenge

Inforgraphics and Written by Erica Simek Sloniker, GIS and Visual Communications & James Robertson, Spatial Analyst
Photograph by Karl Johnson

In Washington, the majority of our water supply arrives in the form of snow. Snowpack provides a reliable water supply for the needs most of us enjoy as well as the habitats we explore in. Looking back over the last 35 years, Washington is experiencing its lowest snowpack.

Water levels this year give us a window into the future, of what we can expect and plan for with a changing climate. The drought affects everything we do in conserving Washington from increasing wildfire risk, to low stream flows which can dramatically affect salmon survival. The drought also increases wildfire risk, which is already severely high on the east side of the Cascades, but also makes potential for wildfire on the west side of the Cascades a reality as well.

This year’s drought presents an opportunity to teach us how to be more resilient when our natural resources become stressed. The Nature Conservancy is committed to finding long-term solutions to weather the impacts of climate change. Across the organization, The Nature Conservancy is conserving forests which store carbon, hold water, and cool streams, is working to protect communities from storms and floods, and is helping landscapes and people become better adapted to fire risks.

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Orting Honored for Puyallup River Project

City receives the 2015 Municipal Excellence Award

Written by Tom Burgert, Government Relations Associate
Photography by Keith Lazelle

The Association of Washington Cities announced that the Town of Orting is a recipient of a 2015 Municipal Excellence Award. Orting is being honored in the Small City Success category for their groundbreaking work on the Calistoga Setback Levee through new, innovative Floodplains by Design grant program.

The new 1.6-mile Calistoga Setback Levee protects the City of Orting from flooding, widens the Puyallup River channel, restores natural habitat, and promotes salmon recovery.

You may remember that Orting was featured in the Seattle Times last fall. Orting Mayor Joe Pestinger wrote:

“We broke ground on the $17 million project in March 2014. On Nov. 25, the new infrastructure was tested as the Puyallup rose to the same flow that flooded our town in 2009. But this time, the new levee held. It was tested again in December and in January. It worked. The benefits to people are obvious and immediate: safety, community well-being, economic security.”

Read the whole piece here

In the same breath of commending the town of Orting, it is also critical to note that this successful project would not have been possible without the Floodplains by Design program, which funds local projects that substantively reduce flood risks and restore habitat, and that may also improve agricultural viability, water quality and recreational access.

Funding for Floodplains by Design is being considered by the state Legislature right now. The State House proposed $43 million for 12 top ranked projects around the state. The State Senate proposed not funding the program.

Visit our take action page to learn more about how you can get involved in restoring funding for this important program so that more towns like Orting can celebrate successes for public safety.

It’s Wild & Scenic!   After years of advocacy, The Nature Conservancy is pleased to share the news that Congress recently approved designation of Illabot Creek as a National Wild and Scenic River. Illabot Creek is a tributary to the Skagit River and home to a night roost for eagles and one of the most important salmon spawning grounds in Puget Sound.  The Nature Conservancy has been working to protect the mighty Skagit River for more than 30 years, so that migrating birds, bald eagles, legendary Skagit salmon runs and the iconic beauty of the Northwest will be there for future generations. 
 In the words of TNC’s director of strategic partnerships, Bob Carey, “Illabot Creek is one of the few places in the state where you can still really see what the old-timers meant when they would say they could once walk across the backs of salmon.” 
 Thanks to the hard work and leadership of  Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Representative Rick Larsen  and  Representative Suzan DelBene , Illabot Creek finally has the protection it deserves. 
 Please take a few moments to send these champions of nature a quick thanks for their tireless efforts to protect this special place: 




   US Senator Patty Murray   






   US Senator Maria Cantwell   








   US Congresswoman Suzan DelBene   






   US Congressman Rick Larsen

It’s Wild & Scenic!

After years of advocacy, The Nature Conservancy is pleased to share the news that Congress recently approved designation of Illabot Creek as a National Wild and Scenic River. Illabot Creek is a tributary to the Skagit River and home to a night roost for eagles and one of the most important salmon spawning grounds in Puget Sound.

The Nature Conservancy has been working to protect the mighty Skagit River for more than 30 years, so that migrating birds, bald eagles, legendary Skagit salmon runs and the iconic beauty of the Northwest will be there for future generations.

In the words of TNC’s director of strategic partnerships, Bob Carey, “Illabot Creek is one of the few places in the state where you can still really see what the old-timers meant when they would say they could once walk across the backs of salmon.”

Thanks to the hard work and leadership of Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Representative Rick Larsen and Representative Suzan DelBene, Illabot Creek finally has the protection it deserves.

Please take a few moments to send these champions of nature a quick thanks for their tireless efforts to protect this special place:

US Senator Patty Murray

US Senator Maria Cantwell

US Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

US Congressman Rick Larsen