Squaxin Island Tribe, Capitol Land Trust, LOTT work together to protect habitat

The Squaxin Island Tribe and the Capitol Land Trust are hoping to purchase and protect an important piece of forestland between Henderson and Budd inlets as part of a joint effort to restore and protect habitat between the two south Sound inlets.

“In total, we would protect almost 60 acres,” said John Konovsky, resource protection manager for the Squaxin Island Tribe. “Most importantly, the property contains more than 10 acres of a vital 70 acre wetland.”

The purchase will largely be funded by a grant the tribe received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The balance of the funding would come the LOTT Clean Water Alliance, the local wastewater utility.

Protecting the forestland and shoreline between Budd and Henderson inlets is a high priority for both the tribe and the land trust because the area is relatively undeveloped. “Since this area is so close to an expanding urban center, it’s important to protect as much as possible before it is destroyed by development,” Konovsky said.

In addition to land purchases, the partnership could also lead to habitat restoration projects, such as culvert removals.

The unique partnership between the tribe and the land trust is key. “The tribe has expertise with research and directly managing natural resources, while the land trust has worked with hundreds of landowners to protect important areas” Konvosky said. “The tribe and the trust have a long-time working relationship.”

The Squaxin Island Tribe has been studying deep South Sound for decades and recently completed a habitat assessment of Budd Inlet, where the tribe has been monitoring juvenile salmon populations.

“Protecting and restoring habitat is the single most important thing we can do to restore salmon and to bring Puget Sound back to health,” said Andy Whitener, natural resources director for the tribe. “Restoring salmon and repairing Puget Sound is a massive undertaking. It’s great that we have been able to find partners in the community to help us out.”

“Protecting our treaty-reserved right to harvest depends on a healthy ecosystem, we appreciate the support we get from our neighbors,” Whitener said.