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Skagit Land Trust to get 1,000 acres near Concrete to protect

A bald eagle is lit by the setting sun as it sits on a branch, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, near Rockport, Wash., along the Skagit River. The Skagit River valley is the winter home of several hundred eagles each year.
A bald eagle is lit by the setting sun as it sits on a branch, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, near Rockport, Wash., along the Skagit River. The Skagit River valley is the winter home of several hundred eagles each year. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Skagit Land Trust will soon take ownership of more land in east Skagit County.

The Nature Conservancy will transfer nine conservation sites totaling about 1,000 acres to the land trust for continued protection.

The sites are east of Concrete along the Skagit, Cascade, Sauk and Suiattle rivers, as well as along Illabot Creek.

The areas include forest, wetland and stream habitats supporting a variety of wildlife, according to a news release.

The land trust, which has been protecting habitat for 25 years, will manage the sites through its community-based conservation approach, bringing volunteers and youths onto the properties to explore and help care for them.

“Skagit Land Trust is honored to accept responsibility for these wonderful preserves from The Nature Conservancy,” trust Conservation Director Michael Kirshenbaum said in the release. “These nine properties are sterling examples of what makes the Skagit special.”

He told the Skagit Valley Herald that some of the sites originally were set aside to protect bald eagles, some to protect salmon and others for broad habitat protection.

The nine sites are some of several the trust has stewarded for the conservancy since 2012, meaning land trust staff and volunteers have helped monitor and improve habitat.

“The Nature Conservancy and the Skagit Land Trust share a long partnership and commitment to ensuring that nature will thrive in these lands and waters for generations to come,” conservancy Puget Sound Conservation Director Jessie Israel said in the release.

Jolene Boyd, Puget Sound stewardship coordinator for the conservancy, said in recent years the organization has focused more of its work on broad efforts and less on managing individual properties.

“While the upper Skagit is really important, we’ve been engaging more in statewide and regional projects,” she said.

The Nature Conservancy decided it made sense to give the land trust full control of the sites.

“They saw an opportunity here in Skagit to take some of their preserves that would be great properties for the land trust to manage because we engage the community through our volunteer stewards program, with schools and youth groups … and it fit really well with our mission to not just take care of the land but also get the community involved,” Kirshenbaum said.

The conservancy will still operate out of a Mount Vernon office and hold other properties in Skagit County, organization spokeswoman Robin Stanton said.

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