OLYMPIA - A vacant house on Snow Creek will be razed, but a farmhouse and barn on nearby Salmon Creek may be saved as plans take shape for a new state wildlife area at the head of Discovery Bay.
Both properties were purchased in 2002 by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), which is working with local conservation groups, area tribes and other state agencies to restore 165 acres near the tide flats for fish and wildlife habitat.
The Snow Creek house, at 283234 Hwy. 101, is not compatible with that plan and is scheduled for demolition next week, said Sue Patnude, WDFW regional director.
Situated just 30 feet from the creek's edge, the structure is contaminated with asbestos and has a drainfield that perks into the yard, she said.
"The original plan was to sell the house, but there's no way it could ever meet code," Patnude said. "We decided the best thing to do - both in environmental and financial terms - was to just take it down."
But the old farmhouse and barn near Salmon Creek built in the 1930s are another story, she said.
"For one thing, neither structure interferes with the goal of improving habitat for fish and wildlife," she said. "Also, the barn is a local landmark. If we can save those buildings, we will."
To do that, however, requires approval from the federal and state agencies that provided the grant money to purchase the 106.5-acre Salmon Creek property.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which provided $246,493 toward the acquisition, has rejected the idea of retaining the farm structures on land purchased specifically for restoration of fish and wildlife habitat.
But several conservation groups involved in the restoration effort have asked USFWS to reconsider, seeking support for their position from local lawmakers and members of the state's congressional delegation.
"As with other salmon recovery efforts, we see this restoration project as a partnership with the local community," said Richard Brocksmith, lead entity coordinator for the Hood Canal Coordinating Council (HCCC). "Destroying those buildings won't serve either the project or the partnership."
Brocksmith called creation of the Snow/Salmon Wildlife Area an outgrowth of local efforts began in the early 1990s to restore runs of summer chum salmon, which have since been listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Besides restoring habitat for salmon and other species, project partners also hope to improve public access to Discovery Bay, he said.
"Both people and wildlife will benefit from the wildlife area envisioned under the Snow/Salmon Wildlife Area Management Plan," said Brocksmith, noting that information about the new wildlife area will be available at the Discovery Bay Day celebration June 4 at the Gardiner Community Center.
Partners in the restoration effort, besides WDFW and HCCC, include the Washington Department of Natural Resources; Jefferson Land Trust; Jefferson County Conservation District; North Olympic Salmon Coalition; Trout Unlimited, Peninsula Trails Coalition
Pacific Northwest Trails Association; Jefferson County, Washington State University Extension of Jefferson County; Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe; Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe; Point No Point Treaty Council; and the Puget Sound Action Team.