May 18, 2014 7:15 pm • By Shari Phiel of The Daily News
Columbia Land Trust purchased two properties earlier this month in the last undeveloped area of Long Beach Peninsula, adding 62 acres to its holdings. The purchased properties lie within Hines Marsh, the largest freshwater wetland area along the peninsula, and are directly adjacent to the 1,200-acre Leadbetter Point State Park north of Oysterville.
“We look for appropriate habitat properties, really focusing on conservation efforts,” said Land Trust Conversation Manager Nadia Gardner. “My role is to identify large tracts of habitat land and connect with land owners to see if they were interested. In this case they were.”
Since 2001, Columbia Land Trust has conserved about 175 of Hines Marsh’s 900 acres. The trust is working with Washington’s state parks to improve habitat in the marsh by creating more open-water areas. These areas are preferred by trumpeter swans, the largest waterfowl in North America with a wingspan of up to eight feet. Thanks to the trust’s restoration efforts, the swans returned to the marsh for the first time in 40 years in 2003. Since then, the trumpeters have returned regularly during winter months.
According to Gardner, local naturalists have found more than 85 bird species in the area.
The wetland area includes interdunal wetlands, an uncommon type of wetland that forms between dunes that are abundant on the Long Beach Peninsula. According to Gardner, the dunes are critical wintering habitat for trumpeter swans, tundra swans, gulls, loons and grebes and also provide breeding habitat for herons, ospreys and other raptors. The dunes also play a key part in protecting the groundwater that supplies drinking water for the peninsula.
“What we’re doing is part of larger effort to protect one of largest, most pristine bays. Our goal is to keep it special for people and wildlife,” Gardner said.