The Nisqually Land Trust has added two properties central to the restoration of the Ohop Creek to its index, protecting them in perpetuity.
Ohop Creek is one of the two main tributaries to the Nisqually River, and the new acquisitions include 45 acres of floodplain and over one-half mile of Ohop Creek shoreline, which is used by threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.
The Nisqually Land Trust purchased the properties from two families with deep roots in the valley.
“We purchased 10 acres in the lower Ohop from Marcia Berger, who has owned the property since 1983,” stated a news release. “The land trust worked with Marcia and her daughter, Cindy, to allow Cindy and her family to retain a residence on high ground while the land trust acquired the land along the valley floor.”
Helping to set the stage for the next phase of Ohop Creek restoration, the Berger property adjoins 90 acres the land trust purchased from the Pruitt family in 2019.
According to the release, Ohop Creek “was ditched” over a century ago to drain the valley for dairy farming, resulting in devastating impacts for fish, which ultimately reduced the creek’s capacity for Chinook salmon by upwards of 80%.
The first phase of restoration saw the re-converting of 1.6 miles of ditch back to 2.4 miles of a meandering, salmon-friendly stream and also the planting of 186,000 native trees and shrubs in the floodplain.
The Nisqually Indian Tribe and a team of local, state and federal partners teamed up with the land trust to complete the work in 2015.
“We’re grateful to Marcia and her family for helping us to secure one more piece of the puzzle for the next phase of the Ohop Creek restoration,” said Land Trust Executive Director Jeanette Dorner in the release. “It’s been a high priority in the Nisqually salmon recovery strategy for the last two decades and this brings us one step closer.”
The land trust also purchased 35 acres further up the valley from the Litzenberger family, land that includes over 2,200 feet of Ohop Creek shoreline, which act as the heart of the creek’s salmon-spawning beds.
“The purchase secures the property for floodplain restoration and eliminates development of up to 37 residences, which would have severely impacted the spawning grounds,” the release stated. “The land trust will continue to lease a home to a young family with a small livestock operation on a portion of the property outside the floodplain.”
The state’s Streamflow Restoration and Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration programs as well as the Nisqually Delta Environmental Mitigation Trust are funding partners for the initiative.
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