It’s spring, time to get outside and explore our home region. Ready to enjoy some new opportunities?
Many of us are familiar with the Capitol Land Trust, which has been acquiring land and easements for conservation purposes for some three decades.
Now the land trust has embarked on a bold effort to open some of its properties to public access and enjoyment. The core mission remains unchanged, protecting diverse properties for their natural values, as well as conserving working farm and forest lands. Most areas will continue to fulfill this important purpose. But several carefully selected properties now also welcome compatible public access.
At 4939 Mud Bay Road, just west of the building that formerly housed the Blue Heron bakery, there’s now a gravel parking lot, signs, and a short loop path to the shoreline. This is the Randall Preserve, a small but lovely property that offers access to saltwater views. Enjoy the information panels posted along the trail. Sit quietly on the bench and notice the changing tidal currents.
Just west of Olympia, drive south on Delphi Road, then turn right onto Waddell Creek Road and proceed to a left turn into the Lake Lucinda residential area. Follow the road to 8910 Lake Lucinda Drive SW. You’ve found the Darlin Creek Preserve, a treasure recently acquired by the land trust. Park at the lot, check out the trailhead signs, then explore some 3 miles of foot trails through this lovely wooded tract. There are beaver ponds, streams, and a mix of forest environments to explore.
Follow Highway 3 north of Shelton to the Bayshore Preserve, just across from a Texaco station. This former golf course is now being restored to a more natural landscape with extensive shoreline along Oakland Bay. Restoration of lower Johns Creek on the property will mean increased spawning salmon use. Park at the gravel lot near the coffee stand and stroll the trails. This preserve also serves an important educational purpose: The land trust is working with Mason County schools to make Bayshore an outdoor laboratory for student learning.
Just west of Shelton, on West Hurlbert Road behind the auto dealership, you’ll find the Hilburn Preserve. Park at the kiosk and enjoy the easy loop trail with views of Goldsborough Creek, another opportunity to see spawning salmon in autumn.
For more information and maps, visit the Capitol Land Trust website at capitollandtrust.org.
Another special place will soon fulfill a unique role. The land trust has acquired property along the east shoreline of Henderson Inlet. The intent is to designate this as the Inspiring Kids Preserve, collaborate with local schools, and give students an opportunity to use this as an outdoor learning laboratory. What better asset for our community than to have this property educate and inspire the citizens who will be the ones to care for our beautiful region in future years?
Capitol Land Trust has stepped forward to make these lands available for all of us to enjoy. These are privately owned preserves, not public lands. The land trust is taking a risk, counting on you and me to treat these special places with respect.
How should we respond? We need to be careful in our enjoyment of these places. Respect the simple ground rules for use. Stay on the established trails. Keep our pets on leash. Clean up after ourselves — and take the extra step of carrying out any litter left by other less thoughtful visitors.
Capitol Land Trust also provides a variety of volunteer opportunities to assist in the care and management of these and other preserves. Check out the website to find information and sign-up opportunities. Put in a little “sweat equity” to be an active part of making these lovely lands a lasting asset for all of us.
We humans care for the people and places we love. If our youngsters are given the opportunity to experience the outdoors, to learn to appreciate and enjoy these special places, then we can look forward to a bright future for the land — and for ourselves. See you outside.