Little Skookum Inlet
Forterra is working to conserve Little Skookum Inlet, 816 acres of riparian habitat, wetland and forest with two miles of marine shoreline in Mason County.
Generations of Native Americans, family foresters and shellfish farmers have tended to this inlet. Protecting this place will prevent the property from being developed while protecting critical habitat for shellfish and salmon. Securing this property on Little Skookum Inlet will maintain the quality of marine and fresh water sources critical to the health of Puget Sound and its diverse wildlife species. Moreover, conservation will allow the public continued access to hike, hunt and fish on the land.
Preserve Critical Habitat
This significant stand of forest is becoming increasingly squeezed by development. Keeping the property in forest use protects water quality and provides critical habitat for marine wildlife such as Orca, river otter, shorebirds, crustaceans and fish. Among the latter are juvenile Chinook, Coho and steelhead, which utilize the inlet as a nursery before heading out to the open ocean. Freshwater streams on the property provide spawning grounds for fall chum. While nearby estuaries—such as Oakland Bay and Budd Inlet—have largely been closed to shellfish harvesting due to contamination, Skookum remains a productive shellfish inlet because of its exceptionally high water quality.
Protect Water Quality
If Little Skookum is developed as a residential subdivision, pollution from roofs, lawns, driveways, septic systems, roads and livestock will harm inlet water quality. Much of the land around the inlets of South Puget Sound has already been developed. Water quality in those areas has suffered as a result. On the other hand Little Skookum’s water quality is still healthy. Its wide and shallow channel is ideal for growing famously fat clams and oysters, prized by aficionados for a sweet and fruity flavor. Besides shellfish, keeping Little Skookum clean and healthy maintains the vitality of salmon-bearing streams. These streams are nurseries for Chinook, a vital food source for the imperiled pod of Southern Resident Orcas.
Halt the Threat of Development
Little Skookum’s forest and healthy shoreline are at imminent risk of being lost forever to development. If left unprotected, the property could be developed as a residential subdivision. Already, neighboring inlets are full of houses with armored shoreline. By keeping the property in forest use through a conservation easement, the land will remain undeveloped while forested buffers along shoreline and salmon-bearing streams will be expanded.
Access Recreation Opportunities
Little Skookum Inlet’s 816 acres are irreplaceable for human quality of life, too. The beautiful property is a widely popular and well-loved place where local residents can hike, hunt, fish and ride horses. Public access will be lost forever if we don’t act quickly to conserve the property.
Working Forest & Partners
Our project partner, Port Blakely Tree Farms, has stewarded the forest at Little Skookum for over 150 years. Keeping the land as a working forest through a conservation easement will support local jobs and supply mills in communities such as Aberdeen, Centralia and Shelton. Port Blakely recently added a new culvert to improve the ability for chum salmon to swim upstream to spawn, even adding a resident troll to stand sentry (below).
Prepare for Climate Change
Climate change—bringing rising sea temperatures, sea levels and ocean acidification—is expected to have a substantial negative impact on marine shorelines throughout Puget Sound. Our near-shore waters could become inhospitable to shellfish, salmon and Orca. Conserving the forests around Little Skookum will make the inlet more resilient to these changes, helping to lessen the local impacts of rising temperatures.