We Work - Helping Landowners
Phyllis Ellis Forest
easements are written to meet the needs of a landowner
while preserving the land’s natural features. This
tool is often sought to protect the future of the family
farm, in peril of being lost due to rising costs and property
values. The Conservancy holds a conservation easement on
one such property – a tree farm.
When you make your way along the green, wooded stretch of
Lombard Drive in Gig Harbor, you’re passing through
the Ellis Forest. People often tell Kit Ellis, who now owns
the acreage, how much they love this stretch of road, shrouded
by trees on both sides as they drive. She gives the credit
to her late mother, Phyllis, who believed the people have
all the advantages and that animals get little consideration.
Phyllis had shared her woods with wildlife since she bought
the land in 1956, and it was her wish to conserve it as
forest. Because of her foresight and the land protection
agreement she made, the wild animals she loved will always
have a home here, and the forest can continue to be enjoyed
by anyone who passes through.
The Ellis land protection agreement established their forest
as a stewardship forest, the first so designated in the
state. “There is a small leftover glacial lake in
the forest, with occasional otters, and still some fish.
There’s lots of brushy salmonberry and gooseberry,
so it’s a good corridor for wildlife to move up and
down,” says Kit. “We wanted the agreement written
in a way that would look after these things.” With
the help of a land trust conservation specialist and a biologist
with the stewardship forestry program, the agreement was
written to include a comprehensive forest plan. It allows
timber improvement and thinning activities that follow responsible
stewardship practices, ensuring income for the owners and
protecting the natural systems that support the wild species
that make these woods their home.
Through the use of a conservation
easement, the Ellis Forest has become a slice of Peninsula
history forever preserved.