Tag Archives: Quilcene Bay

New protections planned for Devils Lake and Dabob Bay natural areas

In 1991, accompanied by botanist Jerry Gorsline, I visited Devils Lake for the first time. I remember being awestruck — in part by the beauty of the place but also because of the many unusual native plants that Jerry raved about. Not one invasive species had reached this place.

“Visiting Devils Lake,” I wrote, “is like stepping back in time, perhaps 200-300 years, to a period when civilization had not yet carried the seeds of foreign plants to the Pacific Northwest. At one end of the lake lies an enchanted world — a rare bog, where the sound of distant bubbles accompanies each footstep in the spongy moss.”

Proposed expansion of Devils Lake Natural Resources Conservation Area Map: DNR
Proposed expansion of Devils Lake Natural Resources Conservation Area // Map: DNR

Jerry worried that telling the story of Devils Lake would bring irresponsible people to the lake, people who could destroy the fragile ecosystem. But he also worried that not telling the story would lead to a massive clearcut on this state-owned land and that this wonderland would slip away. You can read this story online in Chapter 10 of the book “Hood Canal: Splendor at Risk” (PDF 5.2 mb).

Jerry and others were successful in limiting the logging, in part because of increasing environmental awareness and a new program called the Timber, Fish and Wildlife Agreement. In 2002, 80 acres containing the lake were permanently set aside as a natural resource conservation area.

Now Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark wants to add another 415 acres to the NRCA before he leaves office. The added property, now held in trust for state school construction, would extend the protected habitat to the western shore of Quilcene Bay. To gain special protections, the land would need to go through a process to compensate the trust for the loss of land and timber values.

Proposed expansion of Dabob Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area. Map: DNR
Proposed expansion of Dabob Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area. // Map: DNR

Nearby, the 2,771-acre Dabob Bay natural area — which includes the highly valued natural area preserve and the surrounding NRCA — would increase by 3,640 acres under the expansion plan. About 940 acres is held by the state in trust status. Private lands, totaling 2,700 acres, could be purchased by the state but only from willing sellers.

Basic details are provided in a fact sheet from DNR (PDF 318 kb). Peter Bahls, executive director of Northwest Watershed Institute, wrote an article about the plan for Olympic Forest Coalition.

Two public meetings have been scheduled at Quilcene High School to discuss the plan:

  • Informational discussion: Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Public hearing for comments: Thursday, Oct. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Written comments: Information available at the link above.

Information on the previous Dabob Bay NRCA expansion and request for related funding can be found in the DNR publication “Dabob Bay Coastal Conservation” (PDF 12.3 mb).

Flushing a river can move sediments out of the way

Tides can help to flush a river the way the tank on your toilet helps to flush the bowl.

That’s not a very appetizing analogy when it comes to Quilcene Bay, which is famous for its oysters. But we’re not talking about pollution here; we’re talking about the need to flush sediments that have been clogging the Biq Quilcene and Little Quilcene rivers for decades.

When biologist Randy Johnson offered this toilet analogy, it just seemed to click for me. So I used it in a story I wrote for yesterday’s Kitsap Sun about the extensive work taking place in the Little Quilcene estuary. I tried to explain how the removal of the “delta cone” at the mouth of the Little Quilcene is one step in the restoration of critical salmon habitat throughout Quilcene Bay.

A list of restoration projects in the bay, compiled by Richard Brocksmith of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, gives you an idea about how much work has been going on or is being planned.

While several groups are involved in the Quilcene effort, the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group has led the way. This group is unique among the 14 fisheries enhancement groups for the variety of efforts it has undertaken throughout Hood Canal. Check out the left margin of the story for an abbreviated history of the HCSEG.