Dawley land donated to state for wildlife refuge
Posted on Wednesday 19 July, 2006
Cecil Dawley loved birds, up close and in the wild, raising them and watching them throughout his life in Sequim.
A quiet dream he had to preserve land for birds forever is coming true. On July 22, a private ceremony will honor Dawley's donation of 130 acres for a wildlife refuge near 7 Cedars Casino to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. A simple bronze plaque with his name and years of birth and death will be dedicated, as Dawley's widow Helen looks on.
My husband was a very private person, and he didn't want any fuss or feathers about what he did, Helen said, but she wants the community to be aware of the donation. People need to know what a tremendous gift this has been.
Dawley was born in 1915, the year his family came to Sequim to run a shoe and saddle repair business and eventually a grocery store. After Dawley returned from five years of service in the U.S. Army, he turned his facility for business to the construction industry.
All the brick buildings in Sequim, he built, Helen said. He did a lot to change the face of Sequim, really.
Among the landmark brick buildings he constructed is a house overlooking Sequim Bay, just west of where 7 Cedars Casino now stands. From the water's edge south across U.S. Highway 101 into the mountains, 130 largely untouched acres host wildlife, including the birds that Dawley appreciated so much.
He lived there with his first wife, Ruth, until she died of cancer in 1972. It was as Ruth was dying that Dawley made the decision to donate the land, Helen said.
It was deeded over to the state in the mid-1970s, but Dawley was given lifetime use of the property, according to DFW, and continued to enjoy it until his death in 2005.
Definitely Mr. Dawley had a strong feeling for natural resources and wildlife, said Kevin Ryan, project leader for the department's maritime national wildlife refuge complex.
For planning purposes, the Dawley land is joined with the wildlife refuge at Dungeness Spit, Ryan said, and the state isn't sure what the future of the property will be in terms of education and public access.
Our core mission is wildlife first, Ryan said, and the state anticipates creating a comprehensive plan for the Dawley and Dungeness refuges in a few years.
The brick house draws water from a spring up the hill, making it inappropriate for wide public use without significant alterations, but DFW is considering offering the use of it to public colleges for wildlife-related laboratory functions.
Helen Dawley hopes that someday the brick house might be a museum, but she is sure her husband's wishes about the forested property to the south will be fulfilled.
It will remain the same, it will not be sold and trees taken down and subdivided; it will always be a very natural place, she said. There is so much concern in Sequim right now about overdevelopment. This is 130 acres that won't happen to.
--by Ariel Hansen Gazette staff writer Published 7.19.06 Copyright © 2006 Olympic View Publishing. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed for any commercial purpose without permission of the Sequim Gazette.