Filucy Bay Preserve

Filucy Bay is an off-the-beaten-path tidal estuary near the southern tip of the Key Peninsula not far from the small community of Longbranch. This special place is home to an amazing variety of wildlife. Mother bears with cubs trailing are regulars in the preserve, foraging on berries and salmon. When the tide is in, osprey hunt for fish from the air and great blue heron stalk small prey at water’s edge. Owls, woodpeckers, and songbirds thrive in the preserve’s mature forest of fir, cedar, maple, and alder. This bay was also once a favorite fishing spot for First Nations Peoples, and is now an area of interest to archeologists.

The Filucy Bay Preserve protects over a mile of shoreline along this quiet Pierce County cove. Kayakers love exploring the north cove of this quiet bay with its long stretches of forested shorelines and abundant birdlife including eagles, kingfishers, and great blue herons. The tides can be extreme here, however, so kayakers should take care not to get stranded on the mudflats at low tide.

Great Peninsula Conservancy has designated a water-landing site on the western shore of the Filucy Bay Preserve. Accessible only by hand-powered watercraft, this public access site features interpretive signage, a picnic table, and a bench. To get there, follow the shoreline past the existing boat ramp, to a grassy opening on the shore. Make sure you come at high tide and bring a lunch to enjoy!

Project Details

The 170-acre Filucy Bay Preserve sits on both the eastern and western bank of the north cove of Filucy Bay, and safeguards intact intertidal and estuary habitat with mature forest lining its banks. This kind of intact natural habitat is increasingly rare, and led to Filucy Bay being ranked in a 2003 Pentec Environmental study as having the 13th highest nearshore habitat quality out of a total of 413 assessment units in the Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor, and Islands Basin. This intertidal estuary habitat is vital for chinook salmon, steelhead trout, fall chum salmon, coho salmon, and cutthroat trout.

The first 38 acres of what is now Filucy Bay Preserve were donated to GPC in 2013 by an anonymous community member who bought the land to save it from development and logging and then donated it to GPC to protect forever. Amazing! In 2014 GPC learned that an undeveloped 21-acre parcel across the bay from this property was up for sale and slated for subdivision and residential development. With support from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Pierce County Conservation Futures, and many generous individual donors, GPC was able to buy this property to protect its habitat in perpetuity.

GPC worked with willing landowners to purchase 40 acres in early 2021 and received a generous donation to purchase an additional 9 acres at the end of the year. In April 2022, GPC again worked with neighboring landowners and RCO’s Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program to purchase an 8-acre parcel. In July 2022, the preserve expanded with the donation of two small parcels to the south, which will protect more than 200 feet of shoreline.

In December 2023 a generous donation from a community member added another 55 acres to the preserve, marking 10 years of work in the the watershed. This new property protects a large wetland, diverse upland forests, and 265 feet of pristine feeder bluff. Wetlands are important sources of biodiversity that build climate resiliency into the landscape and unaltered feeder bluffs help build vital habitat for salmon and other marine species. This incredible donation now connects Filucy Bay Preserve to Pitt Passage to the east and brings the total acreage for the preserve to 170!

The stewardship team has been hard at work restoring portions of the preserve in 2023 and 2024. The Center for Natural Land Management was contracted to remove invasive blackberry and Scotch broom patches in the latter half of 2023 and the Washington Conservation Corps planted 3000 native trees and shrubs to further boost the beauty and productivity of the preserve in January of 2024. Read more about this work and what it takes to replace large areas of the preserve on the GPC blog.

GPC is thankful to the many neighbors, community members, and granting partners that have made this growing preserve a reality. Filucy Bay remains a top conservation priority for GPC, and we plan to continue to expand the preserve in the coming years.

Project Partners

Pierce County Conservation Futures
Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office

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