It’s easy to see why the East Fork of the Lewis River watershed faces the threat of development, according to Dan Roix.
“It’s beautiful,” said Roix, standing on a footbridge over Rock Creek, a major tributary of the East Fork. “You can imagine people want to live here with a view of the creek. But at some point, habitat starts to get degraded.”
Columbia Land Trust recently completed the purchase of 51 acres of riparian forest around Rock Creek, aiming to protect habitat for steelhead and other wildlife. The project area includes 4,500 feet of shoreline along the creek itself, which meanders through Clark County’s Dole Valley area. Roix, the land trust’s conservation manager for the Portland-Vancouver region, said the acquisition happened some two years after conversations with landowner Paula Larwick first began.
The $300,000 project marks the latest local effort for a Vancouver-based nonprofit that’s increasingly known for its work outside Clark County. Columbia Land Trust’s higher-profile projects include thousands of acres of conservation and restoration areas near Mount St. Helens and the Columbia River Gorge. In Clark County, the land trust often works with other government entities on projects that don’t necessarily result in an outright purchase and don’t generate the same attention, Roix said.