Springbrook Creek Preserve is located on Fletcher Bay Road at the NE Twin Ponds Road intersection (across from Johnson Farm). On a chilly, but beautiful day in early March, my husband, Bryan and I met with Sally Hewett, the Board President and a docent for the Bainbridge Island Land Trust for a private tour of the property.
From the main gate, Sally led us down a meandering path to the first of two meadows on the property, which is bordered by an alder forest and wetlands. As we stood in the crisp sunshine, she explained the conservation efforts the Land Trust has been working towards to restore the wetlands, remove invasive species and restore native plant species.
The 23-acre property lies within the larger 999-acre Springbrook Creek Watershed and is home to the headwaters of Springbrook Creek. With partners including Wild Fish Conservancy, BI Watershed Council, City of Bainbridge Island, and the Washington Department of Ecology the Land Trust led a multi-year project called the Springbrook Creek Watershed Assessment, which was completed in 2018. The assessment identified future restoration opportunities to remove fish passage barriers (e.g., culverts), enhance streamside habitats and evaluate the possibility of returning the stream to its historical path, which in turn would protect the existing fish habitats.
As we walked the path on the far side of the meadow, Sally pointed out Osoberry, which was just beginning to bud and can be located throughout the property. She also pointed out a spectacular Tall Oregon Grape, which is often mistaken for the invasive holly, and noted that it was one of the largest specimens of the plant on the island. Continuing on down the path, we came to the creek itself, which is narrowly funneled through a culvert. Sally explained that the spring-fed creek is very cold and remains that way year-round, making it the perfect refuge for fish, such as threatened species like salmon and steelhead trout who need cold, clear water to survive.
The Land Trust is currently working to remove the culvert barrier and allow fish passage into the 6-acre wetland just beyond. This wetland is a wonderful habitat for juvenile salmon to find food and shelter as they mature and prepare for their journey out to Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. Helping to mediate the effects of heavy rainfall, the wetland also provides important water storage and discharge functions as well as recharging an aquifer that supplies potable water to island residents. As we precariously crossed the small tributary of icy water, Sally noted that Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN) is building a custom foot bridge to replace the culvert to make the crossing safer for future visitors and allow for the return of the stream’s flow to a more natural state.
Continuing along the pathway, she drew our attention to a variety of native species, such as spirea, thimbleberry and salmonberry, as well as some not-so-native abandoned farm equipment. Although they don’t know for sure, they believe the equipment (which is quite old) was left by previous owners who farmed the land. Since then, the subsequent property owners have allowed the equipment to remain, being slowly integrated into the forest’s environment and creating shelter to several of the small animal and bird species that call Springbrook Creek Preserve home.
Moving upland, we encountered a mixed conifer forest with heavy undergrowth of deer fern, twin flower, and huckleberry as well as a few spectacular snags, which provide habitat for many creatures, some still in use by wildlife, some completely hollowed out by their former residents. Our tour continued through winding trails which varied from easy to moderate to negotiate, often climbing over downed trees, and eventually ending up in another meadow bordered by an evergreen forest.
The entire tour took approximately an hour, and on an informative Land Trust-led tour, you can ask the docents as many questions as you can think of, all the while enjoying the natural beauty of this island treasure.
While the Land Trust continues to work on their management plan for the property, Springbrook Creek Preserve is available to visit via private tour only. Each tour is conducted by an experienced Land Trust docent. To arrange a visit, click here.
A little history:
In 2017, the Land Trust launched the ambitious (and successful) Stand for the Land campaign to raise funds to preserve as much of Bainbridge Island’s natural habitat as possible. The ongoing Stand for the Land campaign is the largest campaign in Land Trust history and has protected 100 acres of critical island habitats so far. Other acquired properties as a part of the SFTL campaign include the Jablonko Preserve, Cougar Creek Preserve, Rockaway Bluff Preserve, and Miller-Kirkman Preserve. The Land Trust is currently pursuing opportunities to expand existing Stand for the Land properties as well as further the stewardship of those already in their care.
The Bainbridge Island Land Trust was established in 1989, and its mission is to conserve and steward the diverse natural environments of Bainbridge Island for the benefit of all.
The Land Trust is always looking for advisors, such as wildlife and fisheries biologists, botanists, geologists, hydrologists and more, as well as conservation-minded community members who want to advance their mission. For more information on volunteer opportunities, please email Lexi, the Development & Communication Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to learn more about the Land Trust, check out our previous articles:
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