Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Partners Preserve River Floodplains, Farmlands

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and local conservation partners are preserving local farmland and restoring floodplain habitat at the same time along the Dungeness River.

Called the River’s Edge Project, the tribe, North Olympic Land Trust (NOLT) and its subsidiary, Olympic Peninsula Conservation Resource (OPCR), recently purchased more than 100 acres of the McLane-Wallacker Trust property along the river. More than 40 acres purchased by the tribe will be restored for floodplain habitat for salmon, and 64 acres purchased by OPCR will be put into farmland conservation.

In addition, the tribe will acquire 25 acres along the river for a new setback levee with a conservation easement for restoration. The property currently is leased by Dungeness Valley Creamery but is too wet to be used as cow pasture, said LaTrisha Suggs, a Jamestown S’Klallam restoration planner.

“This is a huge opportunity to remove over a mile of a levee adjacent to the Dungeness River and open up floodplain for salmon habitat,” Suggs said. 

The River’s Edge Project has been a priority project for the tribe’s salmon habitat restoration efforts since 1997.

This project was possible  because of willing landowners’ relationships with the tribe and NOLT, she said. 

“Conservation at River’s Edge is an amazing opportunity for this community,” said Tom Sanford, NOLT’s executive director. “The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has been an incredible steward of the Dungeness for millennia and it is an incredible honor to partner in this effort for habitat restoration and farmland preservation.”

This project will protect the land through conservation easements, reconnect former floodplains with the river, create salmon habitat, reduce channelization and high water  flows, allow opportunities for wood accumulation, re-establish riparian forests, and create public access to the river.

“This renewal of historical riparian habitat will support salmon recovery and boost overall ecosystem health,” Suggs said.

The next steps for the tribe are to find funding to complete the design for the levee setback, construct a new levee, deconstruct the old levee, and begin planting native vegetation and trees.

Funding for this project comes from a combination of tribal grants through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation office, the state Department of Ecology’s Floodplain by Designs program, a match from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tribal brownfields funds, and NOLT’s fundraising efforts.

Map courtesy of Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.