For years, we’ve been planning to build a fence on Red Mill Farm Preserve that keeps grazing cattle out of False Bay Creek. The creek empties into False Bay Marine Biological Preserve, a richly diverse tideland habitat owned by the UW and managed by UW Friday Harbor Labs. The fencing project (a partnership between the Preservation Trust, San Juan County Public Works-Clean Water Utility, the county Conservation Land Bank, and the San Juan Islands Conservation District), aimed at improving the purity of the water that feeds into the bay, also requires installing a water pipeline and stock tanks to replace the cattle’s drinking-water supply.

New fence along False Bay Creek | Staff archive

“Fencing” Land Stewards | Staff archive

We’re happy to report that the fence is finally complete, enabling San Juan County to plant some 1,200 trees to create a wooded buffer zone along the creek. Members of the Islands Conservation Corps and Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group helped plant the first set of dormant cuttings inside the new fence. They planted Pacific ninebark, Scouler’s willow, and twinberry, sometimes in shin-deep water! Plans are to meet again this winter to add red alder, shore pine, Douglas spirea, and red-osier dogwood. Wild rose and snowberry shrubs, already present at this site, will expand naturally. Due to their robust nature, all of the species mentioned should be able to handle both months of winter flooding with months of summer drought.

Planting along False Bay Creek, Red Mill Farm Preserve | Staff archive

To read more about the county’s False Bay Watershed Restoration Project, please click here.