In preparation for an upgrade to facilities and interpretive sites, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will close the Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) Whitham Road access point from July through December 2014.
The Woodard Bay Upper Overlook Trail—currently closed to protect nesting herons—will re-open in August, providing public access to views of the bay. The Overlook Trail will be accessible from the parking lot at the north end of the Chehalis Western Trail.
The site will be closed to protect the public safety during construction of new public access facilities and interpretive sites in the NRCA. The updated interpretative design will highlight the ecological values and rich cultural history of Woodard Bay.
“This is a really exciting project,” said Michele Zukerberg, the DNR Natural Areas manager overseeing the development project, “It is carefully designed to balance the ecological values of Woodard Bay with its rich human history.”
The temporary closure marks the next phase of a larger undertaking to restore and improve Woodard Bay NRCA. Restoration activities included the removal of more than 2100 tons of creosote treated structures and 12,000 cubic yards of fill from Woodard Bay and Henderson Inlet. Restoration was completed in March 2013, allowing DNR to develop improved educational and low-impact recreation opportunities.
In addition to the natural beauty of Woodard Bay NRCA, the area holds valuable cultural, historical, recreational, and conservation qualities. The development project includes four major features that highlight these qualities:
• A new environmental and cultural learning shelter.
• An expanded parking lot and a new bike shelter to accommodate bike parking, since bicycle use is not allowed in the NRCA.
• Relocation of the current “boom foreman’s” office and bathroom to cluster structures away from the shoreline.
• Installation of several educational interpretive areas and signs.
The project is supported by the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, and the Squaxin Island Tribe.
See concept drawings and learn more on DNR’s ‘Ear to the Ground’ blog at: http://bit.ly/1uTDnfa
During this closure, DNR encourages users to visit nearby parks and the Chehalis Western Trail.
Woodard Bay NRCA
Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area was designated by the legislature in 1987, one of the first such conservation areas in the state. A wildlife sanctuary that is just minutes from downtown Olympia, this 865-acre site protects habitat, ranging from marine shoreline and wetlands to mature second-growth forest. The site has a rich and varied human history that includes Native Americans, early settlers to southern Puget Sound, and the logging and shellfish industries.
Learn more about Woodard Bay NRCA on the DNR website: http://bit.ly/WoodardBayNRCA
DNR-managed conservation lands
DNR manages 55 natural area preserves (NAPs) and 36 natural resources conservation areas (NRCAs) on more than 152,000 acres statewide. NAPs protect high-quality examples of native ecosystems and rare plant and animal species. NAPs serve as genetic reserves for Washington’s native species and as reference sites for comparing natural and altered environments. NRCAs protect lands having high conservation values for ecological systems, scenic qualities, wildlife habitat, and low-impact recreational opportunities. Environmental education and approved research projects occur on both NAPs and NRCAs.