Success Stories

Successful waterway conservation projects.

These Thurston County landowners participated in voluntary conservation projects. They received assistance from local organizations to ensure a successful project. Read about their experience with waterway conservation on their property.

Henderson Inlet

School class groups assisted Susan with removing invasive plants and installing native vegetation on her property.

Susan contacted the Thurston Conservation District for technical assistance in 2017. She was looking to remove invasive plants and restore her waterway within Henderson Inlet to a healthy functioning native-forested ecosystem.

TCD gave Susan a thorough planting plan, best practice recommendations, and practical advice to assist her with beginning the project. South Sound GREEN a k-12 watershed education program assisted Susan by bringing school class groups to her property to remove invasive weeds and plant donated native vegetation. “School groups are great, their energy is amazing!” says Susan.

Since 2017, Susan has made a huge beneficial impact on her property. What once stood as a wall of invasive Himalayan Blackberry is now attractive native trees and shrubs. Native vegetation is growing to create shade for Susan’s waterways, which keeps water temperatures low and allows important species like salmon to thrive. Since beginning this project, Susan has noticed many advantages to restoring her waterway. “Blackberries make such a jungle, it is hard for deer to get around and for native shrubs to flourish. Eliminating the blackberries has helped restore the stream area. It also makes it easier for me to walk around! I am hoping it also improves the water quality of the stream, which eventually goes into Puget Sound.” Creating a healthier waterway has improved water quality and created vital habitat for wildlife.

Several years into this project, Susan has great advice to offer those beginning their waterways projects. “Plan to do a little bit every year and think of it as a long-term project, take photos along the way, and get help when you can.” Susan plans to continue restoring her waterway and looks forward to the added benefits it will provide her property, the surrounding community, and the environment!

Eld Inlet

Left: before the failing culvert was removed. Right: after the bridge was installed.

In 2015, Sheilah contacted the Thurston Conservation District for assistance. She wanted to create a safe home for her family, restore her waterway, and establish permanent native vegetative cover. Sheilah and TCD collaborated to create a conservation plan that addressed her needs.

In planning, Sheilah and TCD determined that the waterway needed restoration. They needed to manage invasive vegetation and develop a planting plan that improved the waterway, enhanced wildlife habitat, and protected water quality.

Previously, Sheilah’s driveway had a corroding culvert that was failing. The driveway had fallen into the waterway. During flooding events the waterway would top the driveway making her home inaccessible.

Together Sheilah and TCD worked on these tasks to improve Sheilah’s property. In 2018, The Thurston Conservation District assisted Sheilah in securing funding to replace the failing culvert. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of the staff at the Thurston Conservation District we now have a safe sturdy bridge and no longer worry about our driveway washing out and blocking vehicle traffic.” This new bridge benefits Sheilah’s property and allows chum salmon, Chinook salmon, coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, and winter steelhead trout to access previously blocked upstream habitat.

During the past five years, Sheilah worked with TCD staff and South Sound GREEN, a k-12 watershed education program to restore the land along her waterway. “Working with the conservation district has benefited my family and property in many ways. We have worked with [TCD staff] to enhance riparian buffers along McLane Creek to provide habitat for native wildlife. Many local school groups have visited to install plants and conduct water testing.

When asked what some of the benefits of implementing conservation on her property are, Sheilah says “We have noticed an increase in the diversity and population of wild birds over the past few years since we started our riparian restoration project. The plantings provide shade, beauty, and privacy to our property.”

Sheilah has worked diligently at conserving her land for several years. She plans to continue maintaining her property to create a better place for the local wildlife, her family, and her community.

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