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.