The West Bay Woods is a remnant shoreline forest that sits above the southern estuarine portion of Budd Inlet in South Puget Sound. These woods have seen various uses over the past 200 years that have left them marked, changed and degraded.
Persistent water quality issues in Budd Inlet and the long-term impacts of the now derelict, post-industrial West Bay shoreline have left the woods all but cut off ecologically from Puget Sound – but not quite. Today the West Bay Woods also tell a story of restoration and recovery.
Within the woods, there are large areas that are still forested with 100-year-old Douglas-fir trees, Western red cedar, and big-leaf maple that provide habitat for Pacific great blue herons, bald eagles, cooper’s hawks, owls, falcons and others. Below the tree canopy, many other species of wildlife use the forest, including mountain beaver, coyote, red fox, Northwest salamander, Pacific tree frog, Puget Sound garter snake, and a robust population of black tailed deer.
There are wetlands and seasonal streams in the West Bay Woods, in addition to the permanent West Bay Creek. These features, as well as the steep forested slopes, if managed appropriately, provide an extremely valuable stormwater service by filtering polluted surface water from the neighboring urban areas before it reaches the Puget Sound. This is of heightened importance due to its proximity to Budd Inlet, where native salmonids, orcas, seals, shore birds and hundreds of other marine species live.
The diversity of wildlife habitat along this shoreline area gives a glimpse of what was once here at a much grander scale. The area is an interconnected and sensitive network of environments that are dependent on each other for healthy ecological function. The vast majority of these woods have now been protected by the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation.
Ongoing restoration work in partnership with the community is focused on enhancing this important remnant of the larger historic habitat for both wildlife and generations of people to come.