The first time he saw the place he knew it was special. It was November 1994 and Steven Tyner was looking at real estate in South Kitsap for a family retreat. “The 30 acres was heavily wooded and the stream was thick with chum salmon in the midst of their spawning season – an amazing sight!,” recalls Tyner. “I fell in love with it.”
Then a Seattle businessman, Steve Tyner wanted a weekend place where he could “get my hands in the dirt.” He bought the property and over the years his family enjoyed campfires and campouts at their place in the woods. They never built a cabin, preferring to be close to nature.
“It was a place to go to over the years to get away from the rat race of Seattle,” recalled Tyner. “It was a place to come and decompress. My daughter pulled crawdads out of the stream when she was young and later our grandkids played in the creek.”
Now 69 years old, he can’t take care of it the way he used to. When Great Peninsula Conservancy approached him about buying his land to save it forever for salmon, he was interested. While Great Peninsula Conservancy waited for a salmon grant from the state that has been held up by the Legislature, Tyner suddenly changed the plan. In December he donated the land, valued close to $250,000, to Great Peninsula Conservancy.
“The first time I saw the property I was spellbound by the big trees draping the stream, and the rushing water crisscrossed with fallen logs,” enthused Sandra Staples-Bortner, executive director of Great Peninsula Conservancy. “We were hoping Mr. Tyner would be willing to wait for the state grant and were surprised and delighted when he said he wanted to donate it,” she continued. “What a gift to future generations!”
The Suquamish Tribe has documented the importance of Curley Creek for salmon (estimating 2,500 chum salmon are in the stream each fall), and where there are salmon and big trees there are bear, birds and other wildlife. Great Peninsula Conservancy will protect the land as a nature preserve and hopes to lead tours of the property.
“Thank you to the Tyner family and Great Peninsula Conservancy for their generosity and vision. Selfless acts like this are what we need to preserve creeks like Curley, an ancient Suquamish Village site, and the wild salmon that have returned here for thousands of years,” added Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman.
Funds to assist with the transactional costs of the purchase and future stewardship of the property were provided by Clif Bar Family Foundation, Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, MJ Murdock Charitable Trust and members of Great Peninsula Conservancy.
When asked what spurred him to make this amazing gift, Tyner replied simply, “Over the years I realized how special it is. In donating it to Great Peninsula Conservancy I just wanted to ensure the land is protected forever.”