Many people don’t realize that conserving land requires a lot of work and sometimes, a lot of time. This was true for the Eagle Bend Property, which took over 5 years to complete. But like all of our conservation projects, the results were worth the wait.
It All Started Way Back When
Let’s take a step back in time. The Yakima River used to support over 200,000 returning Spring Chinook every year. With the construction of dams along the Columbia River those numbers dwindled. In the early 1980’s, the Bonneville Power Administration was encouraged to fund the creation and operations of a hatchery. The result was the Cle Elum Supplementation and Research Facility. Today this facility supports the production and rearing of Chinook salmon, research on hatchery operations, and offers educational opportunities for the community.
Several years ago, the Washington Department of Ecology identified the need for BPA to mitigate for wetland impacts associated with the Cle Elum facility. Mitigation requires either the creation of new wetlands, or acquirement of property or a conservation easement that permanently protects wetlands in perpetuity. BPA opted to protect existing wetlands and through their relationship with the Yakama Nation, identified the Eagle Bend Property as the land they wanted to acquire.
Relationships Lead To Conservation
The Yakama Nation owns property across the river from the Eagle Bend property. They had been working with the Boone family to create rearing habitat for salmon by reconnecting the gravel pit pond on their property to the river. As it turned out, the pond made really poor habitat. Rearing fish were easy prey for predators since the pond offered little shelter.
However, they formed a good relationship with the Boone family and knew the property well from working there. When they learned of BPA’s mitigation needs, they suggested talking to the Boone family to see if they were interested in conservation. Furthermore, Yakama Nation suggested BPA ask us if we would be involved. We have a long history of partnering with the Yakama Nation on projects and as the only local land trust in our area they thought we would be a good fit.
And Of Course We Said Yes!
We are always interested in a good conservation project, and this one fit perfectly into our goals as a land trust. That being said, it wasn’t easy. Most every conservation project, whether it be a conservation easement, land acquisition, or some other form, has its ebbs and flows, and Eagle Bend was no exception.
There were times we weren’t sure the deal was going to take place. The mineral rights were held by a third party company, which can be a deal breaker if the company doesn’t want to relinquish them. Luckily, they did. At the end, he deadline was very tight, but with everyone digging in, we signed the papers on December 31, 2019!
We are currently working with BPA to develop a management plan for the property. As part of the acquisition, BPA will provide us with a one time lump sum payment to provide for the long-term stewardship of the property. KCT will use the funding to monitor the property and ensure the conservation values are protected in perpetuity. We will enjoy stewarding this special place!
Information about the Cle Elum Supplementation and Research Facility was found in the Bonneville Power Administration Upper Yakima River Cle Elum Supplementation and Research Facility Operations and Maintenance Annual Report for 2004 – 2005: http://docs.streamnetlibrary.org/BPA_Fish_and_Wildlife/00013375-2.pdf