The Quimper Wildlife Corridor is a ribbon of green that stretches across the tip of the Quimper Peninsula, from Fort Worden to Middlepoint. The 3.5-mile greenbelt connects a string of wetlands, forests and floodplains.
The corridor is important for managing stormwater and keeping our local water clean. It also creates an urban wildlife refuge that provides natural habitat and safe passage for mammals, birds and amphibians. For Port Townsend’s growing population, it provides open space and recreational trails.
The Quimper Wildlife Corridor project began in 1992 as a result of work by then-Evergreen College student Kathleen Mitchell. As part of her program, she conducted a feasibility study for a wildlife corridor concept. Because of the benefits the land provides in its natural state, she developed the idea for this project to protect critical areas of the forest from new development.
Realizing the many positive aspects of this concept and knowing there was a limited window of opportunity, the city of Port Townsend, local researchers, community members, Jefferson County and Jefferson Land Trust began to move forward. The wetlands, floodplain and drainage corridors in the city were mapped and inventoried, and Quimper Wildlife Corridor partners began to seek funding to purchase land that was available in order to protect it in its natural state.
The Quimper Wildlife Corridor actually was the Land Trust’s first proactive land protection project. We partnered with government agencies, hosted educational and outreach events and, in 1999, launched a fundraising campaign to raise the money necessary to purchase properties and conservation easements.
Together, the coalition began to build the backbone of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor. To date, we have raised more than $2 million purchase properties — totaling close to 250 acres — for the long-term protection and care of this community treasure.
Now, almost three decades after we began working on the project, the undeveloped forests and wetlands of the corridor provide habitat for more than 200 bird species, amphibians and mammals. They provide refuge for migratory songbirds, such as Swainson’s Thrush, and allow the slow, local migration of rough-skinned newts.
The forest is threaded with miles of recreational trails that locals and visitors use for walking, biking, bird watching and horseback riding. These trails also form part of Port Townsend’s citywide non-motorized transportation network.
The corridor is an important community resource. Linking six wetlands along a 100-year floodplain and natural drainage basin, this forested greenbelt also helps to prevent flooding and filter urban stormwater. This natural system protects water quality in local aquifers in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the waters which surround Protection Island, where 70 percent of Puget Sound’s seabird populations nest.
As a community, we are gradually building a connected and protected greenbelt that will stay wild forever — for the benefit of both people and wildlife. We continue to work with our partners and local residents on this ambitious project, adding additional protected properties as we can, with a focus on critical wetland and wetland buffer properties.
The newest addition to the Quimper Wildlife Corridor is a wetland property identified years ago as a top-tier priority for protection by the Land Trust. Part of the North Beach Wetland Complex, the land is adjacent to other properties owned and permanently protected by the Land Trust and the city of Port Townsend.
Protecting this property was an exciting collaboration between generous landowners, two caring friends of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor and the Land Trust.
In order to see it protected, the daughter and son of Laverne Colt, who passed away in 2018, were willing to sell the property at a discounted price. To make the transaction possible, two generous friends of the Quimper Wildlife Corridor stepped forward to cover all of the costs involved with the transaction. They also donated additional funds to help care for the property in the future.
Want to see the Quimper Wildlife Corridor for yourself? Drop into Jefferson Land Trust’s office, 1033 Lawrence St. in Port Townsend, and pick up a Quimper Wildlife Corridor map/field guide or find it at www.saveland.org/QWC-map. Then plan your winter walk to explore this magical place that benefits our community in so many ways.
Sarah Spaeth is director of conservation and strategic partnerships for Jefferson Land Trust (www.saveland.org). She works closely with landowners and community members, as well as governmental and nonprofit agencies to shepherd land projects through to protection.