Anderson Island Acquisition Launches Nisqually Marine Conservation Initiative
Nisqually Land Trust is excited to announce that we have partnered with Forterra and the Anderson Island Park and Recreation District to acquire some of the last remaining undeveloped shoreline property along Puget Sound—17.6 spectacular acres that will be added to Jacobs Point Park on beautiful Anderson Island, within the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve.
The acquisition expands Jacobs Point Park to 100 acres, making it the largest protected marine park in South Puget Sound. The park offers pristine shorelines, mature forest and wetlands, hiking trails, and great views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier – all just a 20-minute ferry ride from Steilacoom.
Jacobs Point also provides valuable habitat for threatened Chinook, chum and pink salmon that use the Nisqually Delta and Nisqually Reach.
“On top of everything else, this project supports the Nisqually Chinook and steelhead recovery plans,” said Joe Kane, executive director of the Nisqually Land Trust. “It’s also the first project for our new Marine Conservation Initiative, and exactly the way we wanted to launch it – in partnership with other groups doing good work in the South Sound.”
The Land Trust joined the project at the eleventh hour, when grant funding fell short, and provided $70,000 of the $258,000 purchase price. The core funding was provided through Pierce County Conservation Futures; the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, administered by Washington State’s Recreation and Conservation Office; and a private funder.
The new property sits on East Oro Bay, close to the Nisqually River, making this valuable habitat for migrating juvenile Chinook salmon. The property’s beach and tidelands also provide habitat for many invertebrate species, as well as spawning surf smelt and sand lance.
The project also fulfills a longtime goal of the Anderson Island Park and Recreation District, according to Commissioner Rick Anderson, who said that “the acquisition of the remaining private lots on Jacobs Point brings to fruition a dream Anderson Island residents and park commissioners have nurtured for many years.”
Pierce County Council Chair Doug Richardson praised the project. “The further acquisition and expansion of Jacobs Point is a tremendous asset to the County and a beautiful place for individuals and families to recreate,” he said.
The property will be accessible to the public via a trail network. Jacobs Point provides public access to more than 1,600 feet of shoreline.
Forterra led and managed the complex project, which closed just days before grant funding expired. “We are proud of our work that protects vulnerable shoreline and also gifts the people of Puget Sound with amazing views of our natural world,” said Darcey Hughes, Forterra’s Conservation Transactions Manager. “This is a place where people can come hike, paddle, beachcomb or catch sight of a bald eagle, heron or orca.”
Jacobs Point Project Launches Land Trust’s Marine Conservation Initiative
Jacobs Point is the first project completed under the Land Trust’s new Marine Conservation Initiative. In 2016, after 27 years of focusing on the Nisqually Watershed’s freshwater systems – its rivers and streams – the Land Trust’s board of directors decided to expand the organization’s conservation efforts into the marine environment of Puget Sound.
This is a natural extension of the work we’ve been doing all along,” says Lands Committee Chair George Walter. “The freshwater and marine environments are really one big system. We’ve worked very successfully with freshwater habitat, but marine conditions have steadily deteriorated and are growing more urgent by the day.”
The Land Trust has had a long but limited presence in the marine waters, through its land purchases in support of the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, at the mouth of the Nisqually River.
In 2011, the Washington Department of Natural Resources established the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve, a designation assigned to approximately 19,000 acres and 39 miles of marine shoreline habitat in southern Puget Sound adjacent to the Refuge.The Reserve extends from the Nisqually River Delta across the Nisqually Reach to the shores of McNeil Island.
In 2014, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Land Trust completed a preliminary assessment of conservation needs and potential opportunities for protecting priority marine habitats in support of the Reserve.
Last year, we extended that research by hiring consultant Eric Erler to lead an assessment of strategic opportunities and challenges across the entirety of the Nisqually marine environment. More than 20 watershed stakeholders contributed insights and recommendations for the assessment.
Our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, expands our mission to include conservation of marine habitats as a strategic priority. The Marine Conservation Initiative will build upon the work of the Land Trust’s watershed partners and establish its strategic focus in cooperation with them.
Our first project at Jacob’s Point was launched in December 2016.
Jacob’s Point on Anderson Island
Non-developed shoreline in Puget Sound is rapidly disappearing; already, one-third of the Sound’s 2,000 miles of shoreline is developed and no longer accessible to passive recreation users. This conversion of shoreline not only impacts recreational opportunities, but ecological systems that support fish and wildlife, particularly salmon, marine mammals, and shellfish.
Jacob’s Point on Anderson Island provides a rare opportunity to not only protect these sensitive areas but also to expand recreational access. Conserving Jacob’s Point will provide protection of high-value aquatic land with important ecological functions and processes. Notably, the property’s intact marine forest provides many functions important for salmon during their juvenile life stage, such as shade to help moderate temperatures, food in the form of insects, and a source of large woody debris. These marine forests are frequented by Bald eagle, Great Blue heron, Kingfishers, and other avian species that live in close proximity to Puget Sound.
Finally, the property would provide public access to over 1600 feet of Puget Sound shoreline, which is difficult to find on Anderson Island where there are only two other sites on the island to access the Sound.
Above is an aerial view of the property.