A New Refuge just for Wildlife!

Author: Jessica | 06/26/20

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A diverse forest on Central Whidbey Island will remain intact and is now a nature preserve just for wildlife.

Lush, Diverse Forest Buffers Waterfront

On a recent summer morning, a symphony of songbirds sang their hearts out under the canopy of a pristine Central Whidbey forest.

The lush and diverse surroundings and delightful sounds in this healthy, 13-acre forest made it clear how much wildlife seemed at home in this wonderful setting. The peace and beauty of it all made any other future for this beautiful spot unimaginable – all the more remarkable since it recently came close to being developed into home sites.

“It is essential to have the gift of wild spaces where humans don’t intrude for our birds and animals to thrive in their natural habitat.”

We’re incredibly excited to share that this untouched forest is now permanently protected. Thanks to the generosity and passion of Land Trust members, we were able to move quickly to acquire the property, and it will now remain undisturbed for wildlife as a nature preserve.

There’s even more good news! The new preserve buffers already protected Puget Sound waterfront. Combined, the properties hold enhanced ecological value with the forest contributing to the health of the neighboring shoreline and marine environments.

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The diverse forest includes gaps of bright open spaces where sun lights up the understory.

When we were alerted that this rare gem was for sale and had attracted the attention of potential developers, we knew we had to act swiftly. Two Land Trust donors, who want to remain anonymous, made significant contributions to help acquire the property and keep the forest intact.

“During the stay-at-home time for the pandemic, many of us have seen more – and unexpected – wildlife roaming wider thanks to the quieter roads and fewer people,” one of the donors said. “As Island County starts to open up again, it is essential to have the gift of wild spaces where humans don’t intrude for our birds and animals to thrive in their natural habitat.”

The forest is a boon for wildlife and climate resiliency. It contains mature trees, remnant old growth, and old snags covered with woodpecker holes. The forest also has pockets of wet areas and gaps of bright open spaces where sun filters through and lights up a diverse and rich understory that includes sword-fern, huckleberry shrubs, and carpets of false lily-of-the-valley groundcover.

And it’s no surprise the forest is so full of life. Together, the forest and its adjoining property occupy the important interface between “sea, land, and air”. While highly attractive for development, these increasingly rare places harbor the greatest abundance and diversity of plants and wildlife, said Dan Matlock, Land Trust board member and retired college biology professor.

The birds may not have realized anything important had happened, but we know why they sounded so happy.


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