Washington

Cowlitz River

Saving high-quality habitat on one of Washington's best known salmon and steelhead streams

Winter Steelhead in Cowlitz river
Winter steelhead
Photography | Dave McCoy
A man fishing in Cowlitz river in the rain
Cowlitz River in Washington.
Photography | Dave McCoy
A man fishing in Cowlitz River
Cowlitz River in Washington.
Photography | Dave McCoy
A man fishing in Cowlitz River
Cowlitz River in Washington.
Photography | Dave McCoy
Cowlitz Gullfilght
Cowlitz River in Washington.
Photography | Jenny DuVander
Eagles sleeping on a tree
Eagles near Washington's Cowlitz River.
Photography | Dave McCoy

The Cowlitz River flows from glaciers on Mount Rainier and the craggy peaks of the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area to the lower Columbia River at Longview. While the Cowlitz has been impacted by dams, levees and industrial development, some good habitat and wild salmon runs remain.

Western Rivers Conservancy saved a piece of that remaining high-quality habitat in 2009 with purchase of a 17-acre property downstream of the last dam and just upstream from the developed lower reach. The property contains nearly 1,000 feet of Cowlitz River frontage, portions of a functioning side channel and a small forested wetland and beaver pond. A mature stand of red alder, black cottonwood and willow lines the banks and extends well back from the river. The interior of the property is pasture, presenting a good opportunity to replant an upland forest.

The habitat found on the property is in good condition and locally very rare, adding to its importance. Fisheries biologists working on the Cowlitz / Lower Columbia Watershed Recovery Plan identify this property as a Tier One conservation priority.

Western Rivers Conservancy conveyed the property to the Capitol Land Trust in fall 2009, utilizing mitigation funding from the Cowlitz Falls Dam. Additional partners include the Lewis County Public Utility District, National Park Service and Washington Department of Ecology. The Capitol Land Trust and their capable staff will be long-term stewards of the property.

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