The Nature Conservancy has purchased 3,088 acres along the Clearwater River near the Washington coast for $6.98 million. The conservancy bought the land from the Rayonier Corp., a timber company.
The Clearwater is the main tributary of the Queets River, which flows from Mount Olympus to the Quinault Reservation and the Pacific Ocean. The Clearwater is 39 miles long with a drainage basin of 61.5 square miles.
The conservancy will work to restore salmon habitat along an 11-mile stretch of the Clearwater. For generations, the forest has been managed for timber; while timber is still an important part of the Washington coast’s economy, officials say bringing salmon back to historical levels of abundance will help local cultures and the economy to thrive.
“The Clearwater is nationally recognized as a salmon stronghold,” said Devona Ensmenger, program manager for the Wild Salmon Center. “However, its spring/summer chinook salmon population is in serious decline and reestablishing the rainforest ecosystem is critical to bringing back healthy populations.”
Quinault President Fawn Sharp said The Nature Conservancy’s “visionary efforts toward ecological restoration of this area” will complement Quinault’s efforts to restore salmon populations. “We know the Conservancy as a thoughtful land steward, one that will be respectful of our treaty rights, and welcome them as a neighbor.”