Capitol Land Trust Says New Stream Preserve in Boistfort Valley Is a Big Win for Fish

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The Capitol Land Trust (CLT) has announced the permanent conservation of 37.5 acres in the Boistfort Valley, about 13 miles southwest of Chehalis, which could mean big benefits for migrating salmon and steelhead.

The property, now known as Stillman Creek Riparian Preserve, includes 6,800 feet of creek shoreline along Lost and Stillman creeks. CLT identified the parcel as a high priority for conservation because of its potential to benefit fish, primarily spring and fall Chinook salmon, coho salmon and winter steelhead.

One unique feature of the property is that it includes the confluence of Lost and Stillman creeks and is just above the confluence of Stillman Creek and South Fork Chehalis River. Confluences, which are biodiversity hotspots, are the point where two bodies of water merge and the volume of water flow increases.

As part of the property acquisition, CLT also acquired a senior instream water right, equivalent to covering 55.5 acre-feet of water a year. (An acre-foot is 1 acre covered to a depth of 1 foot deep of water.) CLT is partnering with Washington Water Trust to convert the water right to instream flow by putting the water right into trust, which will ensure that water stays instream forever.

“Purchasing a water right and protecting it instream with a donation to the Department of Ecology Trust Water Rights Program yields multiple benefits,” said Jason Hatch, program director at Washington Water Trust. “It addresses temperature concerns by leaving more water instream, improves upstream fish passage and improves access to instream habitats that salmon depend on to rest for upstream passage.”

Providing fish a place to rest is also a goal of Lewis County Conservation District and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), as they design the salmon habitat enhancement project that they will implement on this stretch of Stillman Creek. The project will include placing large pieces of wood in the creek, increasing channel complexity by excavating side channels that will be active during periods of high flow and by adding to previous restoration plantings.

“Conservation projects are known for their reliance on partnerships because we all have a vested interest in the health of our land and water. In a lot of ways, seeing this project come together is like many streams coming together in a confluence,” CLT Executive Director Dave Winter said. “Washington Water Trust, Lewis Conservation District, and WDFW bring together their unique areas of expertise, and the Office of the Chehalis Basin, Forterra, state Recreation & Conservation Office and the Aquatic Species Restoration Plan bring the necessary funding to the table. And, of course, we could not have done this without the support of the Aust Family, whose connection to this land goes back generations.”

For more information, contact Capitol Land Trust’s land protection manager either by phone at 360-943-3012, ext. 4, or by email at thom@capitollandtrust.org.

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