Skokomish Tribe buys Hood Canal marshland
January 12, 2004
There is little development potential at the site, which provides prime habitat for fish and wildlife, tribal officials said.
"Not everyone is in the market for a swampy flood plain, but in this case we were," said Dave Herrera, the tribe's fisheries manager.
The frequently flooded land was bought from a trust managed on behalf of the Bourgault family, which moved to the Skokomish Valley in 1939, with $195,000 in federal funds from the Coastal Salmon Recovery Program.
The terms include an assurance that Joe Bourgault, 75, can keep growing hay on the property until his death.
"The Bourgault family is an important and historic part of this watershed," said Keith Dublanica, the tribe's natural resources director. "They have had a working history in this watershed and should be remembered as being good stewards of this land." Bourgault said the property has suffered from environmental restrictions.
"They won't dredge the river, so we are losing more land all the time," he said.
Dublanica said a stewardship plan will be developed for the property, which also includes two tributaries of the Skokomish, Weaver and Purdy creeks.
With some restoration, including removal of road beds, the streams and wetlands could provide even better spawning and rearing grounds for salmon, including threatened summer chum and chinook, he said.
Numerous species of birds as well as otters, beavers and an occasional cougar can now be found in the area.
"I think this property plays a fairly big role in what the tribe can do for conservancy," Dublanica said.
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