The Nisqually Land Trust announced last week the acquisition and permanent protection of 90 acres of wildlife habitat and more than a mile of salmon-producing shoreline along Ohop Creek in the Ohop Valley near Eatonville.
According to the Nisqually Land Trust newsletter, the property was acquired through two transactions with the Pruitt family, who are described as longtime residents and conservation leaders in the Ohop Valley. They’re best known as owners of the nonprofit Pioneer Farm Museum.
The acquisition represents the next phase of the Lower Ohop Creek Restoration Project, which the land trust calls one of the largest stream restoration projects in the state.
“Ohop Creek is one of the two major salmon-producing tributaries of the Nisqually River and provides habitat for all five species of Pacific salmon native to the watershed,” according to the newsletter. “But over a century ago Ohop Creek was ditched to drain the valley for dairy farming, with devastating impacts for salmon.”
The land trust, the Nisqually Indian Tribe and local, state and federal stakeholders completed the first phase of the project in 2015, converting 1.6 miles of ditch back to 2.4 miles of “meandering, salmon-friendly stream.”
The project, with a cost of $8.7 million, included the planting of 186,000 native trees and shrubs on 180 acres of floodplain.
“The Pruitt Family properties will help us set up the next phase of restoration,” said the Land Trust’s George Walter, who completed many of the land transactions that made the first phase possible. “It took us 15 years to acquire the properties for phase o
ne. We don’t know when phase two will take place, but one lesson we learned is that you acquire the land whenever it becomes available.”
According to the newsletter, the properties were acquired with a land donation from one of the sellers, Tim Pruitt, along with grants from the state’s Salmon Recovery, Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration, and Streamflow Restoration programs.
The newly protected land adjoins 72 acres already secured by the land trust and tribe.