Stream Corridor and Salmon Spawning Habitat Protected

The San Juan County Land Bank recently acquired 24 acres on the lower reaches of Cascade Creek near Olga on Orcas Island. Washington State Salmon Recovery Funds made the purchase possible, ensuring the preservation of a unique 2,100’ stretch of riparian corridor with adjacent upland forest.

“Coho and chum salmon utilize the lower 300 feet of the Creek for spawning and Chinook juveniles forage there as well,” explains Land Bank Director, Lincoln Bormann. “It is arguably the most important freshwater salmon habitat in the islands at this time, and we are very pleased to play a role in protecting such a significant resource for the people of San Juan County.”

The Cascade Creek watershed originates at the top of Mt. Constitution and includes Mountain Lake in Moran State Park. Conservation of this property builds on Washington Water Trust’s and other partners’ efforts to secure adequate year-round water flow to the Creek and salmon recovery funding to rebuild Buck Bay bridge to allow passage for salmon.

While preserving ecological integrity of the site for the benefit of salmonids is a first priority, the acquisition also provides opportunities for public education and enjoyment. Though the creek itself will be off limits, a pedestrian trail will follow the riparian corridor, loop through stunning forest habitat, and provide views of a hidden gorge fringed with maidenhair fern. The Land Bank anticipates opening the preserve for public access in the spring of 2017.  Interpretive signage will tell the story of salmon and other wildlife that utilize the rich environment.

Photo credit: Kurt Thorson