The Martin Miller Fund was started in 1987 for the purpose of acquiring habitat to be protected in perpetuity for plants, animals, birds, fish, and their ecosystems. The fund has helped preserve extensive habitat in the region including wintering habitat for eagles on the Skagit River, a nature reserve on Lummi Island, and a wildlife corridor on Bainbridge Island, among many other land parcels. Seattle Audubon has granted nearly $600,000 from the Martin Miller Fund since its inception.
Seattle Audubon’s Martin Miller Fund Awards Grant to Protect Critical Skagit Wildlife Habitat, December 2013
Seattle Audubon awarded a $30,000 Martin Miller Fund grant to assist Skagit Land Trust in the acquisition of critical bird and wildlife habitat outside of Mount Vernon, Washington. This grant and other lead gifts will jump-start a community campaign to protect an important property adjacent to Skagit Land Trust’s 350-acre Barney Lake Conservation Area.
Barney Lake is the largest remaining natural wetland in lower Skagit County. Its emergent and scrub-shrub wetlands combine with adjacent seasonally flooded grasslands to create highly productive habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors and wetland-associated amphibians. Considered one of the most important areas in Northern Puget Sound for migrating and over-wintering Pacific Flyway waterfowl and shorebirds, from November until April the entire area teems with waterfowl including part of the largest wintering population of Trumpeter Swans on the west coast. Over 900 acres in and around the lake are permanently protected.
While much has been done to preserve this area’s important features, one significant area of the Barney Lake complex remains unprotected; the wetlands and wetland-associated upland forest of the Bell Property. The Martin Miller Fund grant will assist Skagit Land Trust in purchasing this property which will be added to the Barney Lake Conservation Area. The Bell Property is where Nookachamps Creek enters the broad valley and wetland system that runs through Barney Lake and a series of nearby lakes, wetlands and sloughs on its way to the Skagit River. The mature woodlands found on the property are one of the few remaining forest remnants in the Barney Lake area. Nookachamps Creek, a major tributary of the Skagit River, flows through a deep ravine on the property and provides high quality, sheltered forest and riparian habitat for many species of birds, amphibians and fish. This intact forested corridor helps to cool water entering the shallow emergent wetlands of Barney Lake. The complex forest provides habitat for many common and uncommon bird species and there is a small Great Blue Heron rookery adjacent to the property. With the help of Seattle Audubon, preserving this beautiful property will ensure that the habitat complexity of Barney Lake, which makes this area so rich in wildlife species, will be permanently protected. More information about Barney Lake and Skagit Land Trust can be found at www.skagitlandtrust.org.