The Stand for the Land campaign’s largest conserved property yet!
In 2020 and 2021, the Bainbridge Island Land Trust pursued a rare opportunity to protect one of the last few remaining intact and unprotected parcels over 20 acres in size on the Island. This acquisition protected a mature intact forest habitat important to a number of species and critical for the Land Trust’s continued efforts to build a network of lands resilient to a changing climate.
In 2022, this already spectacular Preserve was expanded to include an adjoining 10-acre parcel with a wetland and stream – further enhancing this wildlife-rich landscape.
The 45-acre Rockaway Bluff Preserve is an exceptional forest laying above Rockaway Beach on Bainbridge Island. Stewarded for decades by an Island family, the preserve forms the core of an extraordinary intact, but currently unprotected, upland forest that largely forms a first visual impression of the Island from the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry as it heads into Eagle Harbor. On a clear day, this iconic forested plateau, with the backdrop of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains in the distance, welcomes visitors and residents alike to the refuge of the Island, from the dense development of Seattle and the I-5 corridor.
The Preserve provides critical refuge for many species, specifically birds (of which over 80 species have been documented), who are dislodged from North American Pacific Maritime habitats lost to development in the Seattle area – where more than 500,000 people have moved in the past ten years.
The Rockaway Bluff Preserve is now open to the public.
Please note that we are still working on permanent signage and improved parking. There is currently limited space for 3-4 vehicles just beyond the Preserve entrance. We ask that you respect neighboring properties throughout your visit.
Wildlife Habitat Corridor Connection
The Preserve provides a connection with a network of wetlands, streams, forests, and shorelines already conserved in nearby Blakely Harbor Park, IslandWood, Pritchard Park, and the Cougar Creek Preserve. On this bluff and plateau, some of the Island’s largest grand fir, Douglas-fir, and bigleaf maple tower over Pacific yew and the dense and diverse mixed understory featuring over 40 documented native species such as sword fern, salal, Oregon grape, red huckleberry, vanilla leaf, Colley’s hedge nettle, and much more.
Over 500 homes exist within 1 mile of the preserve, highlighting this preserve as an important reservoir of interior forest habitat.
Snag and Cavity Habitat!
Snags and logs can be especially scarce on the Island, but here the supply of these features allows species such as salamanders, bats, and pileated woodpeckers and all the birds and mammals that rely on the large cavities they create to find a home. As an important local keystone species, pileated woodpeckers are a target species for shaping our management goals, particularly for large trees and snags. Humboldt’s flying squirrels (recently discovered to be a different species from northern flying squirrels) are another keystone species, and our modeling of the Island’s interior forest habitat network was based on this species’ need for contiguous stands with high canopy cover. Flying squirrels are charismatic animals and ecologically important species as prey for forest predators such as hawks, owls, weasels, and coyotes, and as dispersers of fungal spores and nitrogen-fixing bacteria from the truffles they eat. The Land Trust’s camera trap studies have verified this species occurrence on the Island, and the Preserve provides suitable habitat.
By protecting a number of preserves with different habitat types (shorelines, streams, wetlands, forests, etc.), the Land Trust strives to preserve Island environments that can withstand climate changes and continue to provide habitat for diverse animal and plant communities. Protection of intact and complex large landscapes that become a part of a network of habitat types is a conservation strategy of the Land Trust.
We all need nature.
Working with an engaged and determined neighborhood group, the Land Trust is fortunate to build on a foundation of enthusiasm for the protection of this forested plateau. With its proximity to other preserved Island natural areas with public access, the Rockaway Bluff Preserve serves as a new area opportunity to explore and connect with nature through passive use. These connections to nature improve our mental, physical, and social health, thus creating a thriving and healthy community.
Learn more and get involved!
Learn more about our Stand for the Land campaign and how you can get involved!