Black River Preserve

Area: 325 acres

Location: Thurston County, WA

Date Acquired: March 2019

Acquisition Type: CNLM owns the preserve.  We protect and manage imperiled species and habitats on the preserve in perpetuity.

Key Habitats: North Pacific Douglas-fir Forest and Woodland, North Pacific Riparian, Puget Trough Prairie Oak Woodlands

Species of Special Interest to CNLM: Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa)


The Black River Preserve, composed of five properties (Shotwell’s Landing, Black River Bend, Black River Bluff, Mima Creek, and Boots Satterlee), were acquired in fee title as a non-mitigation property transfer from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) in March of 2019. The acquisition is part of CNLM’s ongoing effort to conserve South Sound rare species and habitats in Thurston County, Washington and also part of a large effort to conserve the connectivity of habitat throughout the Black River drainage.

Conservation Significance

These properties provide habitat for rare species and maintain the ecological integrity of the Black River for salmonid and other species which use the river. The Black River Preserve also provides linkages for species to migrate from the uplands of Capitol Forest to the lowlands of the Black River. These properties provide opportunities for researchers to investigate restoration methods and rare species, while allowing for educational opportunities for school groups at several locations. Participation in the conservation of these properties unites numerous partners (public and private) interested in maintaining an ecologically intact watershed.

The Black River Preserve act as refugium for rare lowland species of the Puget Trough, including the federally threatened Oregon Spotted frog (Rana pretiosa), waterfowl, and salmonids. Restoration of lowland floodplains by controlling reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is another research and restoration objective for the Preserve. The establishment and retention of Oregon spotted frog populations is a high priority for Preserve management. Additionally, the partnerships developed with the conservation community involved in the efforts to conserve and protect the Black River offer future synergies.

In total, the five Black River Preserve properties comprise 325 acres that are adjacent to the Black River. The Black River and its tributaries flow through some of Washington’s last remaining prairie oak woodlands. The prairie oak woodlands of the south Puget Trough once covered more than 160,000 acres. Historically, prairie oak woodlands stretched from British Columbia to Oregon. Most of the Puget Trough prairie oak woodlands have been lost to development, and many of the remaining patches are being taken over by trees and invasive weeds such as Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius). Only 3% of native Puget Trough prairie oak woodlands remain, making them one of the most endangered ecosystems in the country.

Our Work

As part of CNLM native seed and plant materials production, Shotwell’s Landing operates a native plug production facility and houses our  seed cleaning and processing equipment.  The facility is maintained with manual weeding, occasional herbicide treatments of noxious weeds, and installation of native plantings along Rainbow Creek. At Mima Creek, Oregon spotted frog oviposition areas are maintained each fall/winter to keep vegetation at heights suitable for the Oregon spotted frog. Brush cutting and grazing are utilized and assessed using experimental design at Mima Creek to maintain oviposition areas.


Volunteers are essential to the completion of restoration activities across western Washington’s prairies. Volunteer activities include scotch broom control, ivy removal, seed collection, native forb, bulb and grass planting, bluebird and cavity monitoring, conifer control, and slash pile burning. Learn more about volunteering with CNLM in Washington here.

Public Access

Due to the vulnerability of the species and habitats that exist on this Preserve, it is not open to the public.


For information about Black River Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management please contact Sanders Freed, Pacific Northwest Preserve/Restoration Manager at or 760.731.7790 extension 304.