Nearly two miles of both sides of South Patit Creek outside Dayton are now permanently protected as the result of a conservation easement held by Blue Mountain Land Trust. A grant from the Washington Salmon Recovery Board funded the purchase of development rights on the property to ensure its conservation values will always be preserved.
Besides the riparian zone along the creek, the easement encompasses a total 132 acres and protects high quality wildlife habitat, a timber stand and open grasslands. The variety of habitats on the property supports dozens of wildlife species, and the landowners have done much to promote good habitat by participating in a CREP program on part of the acreage.
The stream is important for steelhead spawning and rearing, and a riparian restoration project jointly sponsored the landowners, the Blue Mountain Land Trust, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) was planted last fall to provide stream side shade and improve fisheries habitat on the property.
“This is a beautiful piece of property on both sides of South Patit Creek, an important steelhead spawning and rearing stream. The landowners are committed to restoring native vegetation and maintaining the high quality fish and wildlife habitat. At the same time they have the opportunity to produce agricultural products off of the land. This acquisition is a win-win-win, for the landowners, the public, and the resource” said Tom Reilly, Executive Director for the Blue Mountain Land Trust.
The purpose of a conservation easement is to maintain private ownership of the land while compensating the landowners for foregoing all future possibility of adverse development or use, and they cannot subdivide the property. Properties are evaluated for the quality of their habitat and their potential to support salmon recovery through a rigorous selection process. Landowners specify what rights they will retain on their property and at the same time agree to an array of prohibited uses on the property to protect values important everyone such as open space, habitat, and working lands.