Northwest Watershed Institute

Comprehensive Watershed Assessment, Protection & Restoration

In the News

DNR designates 2,000 acres of state forests for conservation

December 27, 2023, Port Townsend Leader

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz released the locations of 2,000 acres of structurally complex state forestland proposed to be set aside for conservation as funded by the Climate Commitment Act. The biggest portion included in the proposal is approximately 670 acres around Dabob Bay. The lands are adjacent to the boundary of the Dabob Bay Natural Area managed by DNR, creating enhanced fish and wildlife habitat connectivity.

DNR proposes to protect Dabob Bay forests with Climate funding

November 15, 2023, Peninsula Daily News

The state Department of Natural Resources has proposed adding another 671 acres to the Dabob Bay Natural Area by moving lands into the state’s new carbon sequestration program as the first of what will ultimately be 2,000 acres in the program, said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz on Tuesday.

“We’re firm believers that the investments in reducing carbon emissions has to have a natural carbon solution,” Franz said as she stood on the pier of the Rock Point Oyster Company in northern Dabob Bay with Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Brotherton and Peter Bahls, Northwest Watershed Institute executive director.

Jefferson County asks DNR to expand Dabob Bay Natural Area

August 8, 2023, Peninsula Daily News

In a major step forward for Dabob Bay conservation, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners sent Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, a letter on August 7, 2023 requesting that DNR expand the Dabob Bay Natural Area. The expansion would protect globally rare types of forest of state timber lands and allow funding for DNR to purchase replacement lands for continued timber production for the Trusts.

NWI kicks off summer 2023 environmental education program for youth

July 26, 2023, Port Townsend Leader

Building off the success of the Youth Environmental Stewards (YES) Program, the Headwater to Bay YES field internship offers a two-week paid opportunity for 15 high school students to learn about and work on restoration projects along the Tarboo Watershed in Quilcene. The field internship will take place Monday-Friday starting July 31 and run through August 11.

Restoration planting season underway along Tarboo Creek

March 3, 2023, Peninsula Daily News

Volunteers are planting thousands of native trees and shrubs along Tarboo Creek and the surrounding wetlands in Quilcene. This year, instead of the usual large Plant-A-Thon that involves youth and parents from five local schools, NWI is hosting smaller monthly events. Volunteers from three area schools kicked off the first day of the 17th annual Plant-A-Thon on Feb. 4.

Dabob Days volunteers protect trees at the Tarboo Wildlife Preserve

November 29, 2022, Peninsula Daily News

Volunteers are gathering monthly to maintain Northwest Watershed Institute habitat restoration efforts along Tarboo Creek and Dabob Bay. During the kickoff event on Nov. 19, a group of 14 volunteers installed more than 130 protective cages around Pacific crabapple and vine maples trees that had been planted in earlier projects. The next Dabob Days will be Dec. 17. To inquire, email

NWI announces staff changes

November 11, 2022, Peninsula Daily News

The Northwest Watershed Institute is making staff changes in light of the resignation of Jude Rubin, the institute’s co-founder and longtime director of stewardship and public engagement. Both incoming Director of Stewardship Wesley Meyers and incoming Education Coordinator Megan Brookens are moving into management positions after working on NWI’s professional restoration crew.

Discovery Creek at Dabob Bay protected!

May 27, 2022, Peninsula Daily News

Ninety-one acres of forest and streams at the headwaters of Discovery Creek, a major tributary to Dabob Bay in East Jefferson County, have been acquired by Northwest Watershed Institute from Rayonier. The project completes preservation of nearly the entirety of Discovery Creek, which is the second largest freshwater source to Tarboo-Dabob Bay. 

Video of Dabob Bay restoration project

May 1, 2022, Anderson Creek Restoration Project

This video of the Anderson Creek Restoration Project highlights a major shoreline restoration project on Dabob Bay, completed by Northwest Watershed institute and partners started in 2015 and nearing completion. Aerial drone and ground photography is used to document the full restoration of the site; from removing houses, lawns, and bulkheads to rebuilding and replanting a meandering stream channel and its valley, a pocket estuary, and low bank shoreline.

YES students upgrade native plant nursery

April 11, 2022, Peninsula Daily News

High school students in the Youth Environmental Stewards program helped remodel the native plant nursery at NWI's Tarboo Wildlife Refuge. The students managed the design-build-installation of the nursery and propagated 1,500 native plants for other students to pot up and plant at future restoration projects along Tarboo Creek and Dabob Bay.

2022 Plant-A-Thon covers ground!

March 29, 2022, Peninsula Daily News

Volunteers planted 1,200 native plants at Northwest Watershed Institute's 16th annual community Plant-A-Thon. At the March 19 event, children and parents from three schools helped restore habitat along upper Tarboo Creek and its wetlands.

Community leaders support state forest protection

March 12, 2021, Peninsula Daily News

In their Op-Ed, prominent community and business leaders on the Olympic Peninsula urge state legislators to fund Trust Land Transfer: DNR’s only tool to preserve state forests with outstanding conservation and recreation value, through reimbursing the timber trusts.

DNR drops plan to sell two public forest parcels

January 11, 2021, Peninsula Daily News

A broad coalition organized by Northwest Watershed Institute persuaded DNR to reverse plans to auction off 80 acres of state forest land with elk habitat and productive forestland. “Canal 40,” a DNR-managed swath along the lower Duckabush River, where an elk herd lives, plus another piece, “Paradise 40” north of Port Ludlow, were to be put up for sale as part of a statewide land exchange.

Coalition urges DNR to protect Toandos Peninsula Heritage Forests

December 10, 2020, Port Townsend Leader

Conservation groups, Tribes, community members, and shellfish farmers are banding together to press the state to expand the Dabob Bay Natural Area to protect globally rare forests on state lands along  the Toandos Peninsula and shorelines of Dabob Bay.     

NWI and our partners protect Tarboo forests

April 29, 2020, Port Townsend Leader

After more than a year of effort, Northwest Watershed Institute and partners have conserved two important forestland properties in the Tarboo watershed. A 21-acre parcel will make an addition to the NWI’s Tarboo Wildlife Preserve. The 30-acre parcel was sold with a restrictive easement to a conservation buyer.


Youth Environmental Stewards Basecamp

April 23, 2020, Port Townsend Leader

The Northwest Watershed Institute launches the Youth Environmental Stewards (YES!) Base Camp, a new eight-week nature program for teens’ outdoor nature studies. YES! Base Camp is similar to the popular YES! program run by the Northwest Watershed Institute, but has been redesigned for social distancing.

NWI to restore wetlands with federal grant award

April 22, 2020, Port Townsend Leader

With funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners, the Department of Ecology will partner with the Northwest Watershed Institute to permanently protect and restore 14.5 acres of wetlands on three adjoining parcels along the creek that drain into Tarboo-Dabob Bay and Puget Sound.

Teens lead tree planting in Tarboo watershed

February 26, 2020, Port Townsend Leader

A Port Townsend High School senior led a group of high-schoolers and volunteers in a tree-planting event on Feb. 8 to help restore salmon and wildlife habitat in the Tarboo Watershed in Quilcene as part of his senior project. The group planted 100 large native trees at a site that is being restored by the Northwest Watershed Institute, within the 400-acre Tarboo Wildlife Preserve.

Northwest Watershed Institute seeks to protect forestland, store carbon

June 9, 2019, Peninsula Daily News

NWI is seeking private donations by August to conserve a 21-acre forest in the Tarboo Creek watershed as an addition to the Tarboo Wildlife Preserve near Quilcene. At a time when climate change is increasing alarm worldwide, the nonprofit’s campaign offers a local, on-the-ground way to offset carbon emissions and protect wildlife habitat at the same time.

Dabob Bay forests gain protection with legislative funding

May 19, 2019, Peninsula Daily News

Nine hundred acres of state-owned timber lands within the Dabob Bay Natural Area will be permanently preserved with funding approved by the Washington State Legislature. The $6.3 million Trust Land Transfer will permanently protect priority conservation areas and allow DNR to reposition trust lands to continue to generate revenue for critical county services and school construction.

State finds violations at proposed Fort Discovery weapons training facility at Tarboo Lake

May 8, 2019, Port Townsend Leader

A site visit by Ecology on March 22 confirmed the allegation by Northwest Watershed Institute and Tarboo Ridge Coalition that Fort Discovery was building its proposed weapons range without permits and violated wetland and clearing and grading regulations. Ecology did not issue penalties but is asking for voluntary compliance.

Community gathers for 2019 Plant-A-Thon

February 10, 2019, Peninsula Daily News

In its 13th year, NWI coordinates the Plant-A-Thon, the largest environmental service project in eastern Jefferson County. In 2019, nearly 200 people gathered to plant 5,000 trees and shrubs at a wetland restoration site at Trillium Woods Farm along upper Tarboo Creek.

Thousands more trees planted on Tarboo Creek in 2018 Plant-A-Thon

February 15, 2018, Peninsula Daily News

In one day, 180 volunteers planted 4,300 native trees and shrubs along Tarboo Creek. Volunteers from area schools worked to restore salmon and wildlife habitat, as well as reduce climate change impacts. The Plant-A-Thon has become the largest environmental service project in East Jefferson County, said Jude Rubin, Director of Stewardship and Public Involvement for Northwest Watershed Institute.

NWI completes study on eagle convocations in Hood Canal

December 15, 2018, Peninsula Daily News

Why do eagles gather along more than a mile of shoreline in east Dabob Bay on Hood Canal, and what is the impact of human interference and commercial aquaculture operations on that habitat? Peter Bahls, aquatic ecologist and executive director of the Northwest Watershed Institute and field biologist Heather Gordon completed the first study conducted on spring eagle convocations in the western United States and published their findings in a newly released report.

Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family’s Quest to Heal the Land, a book by Scott and Susan Freeman is published!

Order online

The story of the Freeman family, working with Northwest Watershed Institute, to restore a damaged creek in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula—to transform it from a drainage ditch into a stream that could again nurture salmon—they knew the task would be formidable and the rewards plentiful. In Saving Tarboo Creek, Scott Freeman artfully blends his family’s story with powerful universal lessons about how we can all live more constructive, fulfilling, and natural lives by engaging with the land rather than exploiting it.

DNR expands Dabob Bay and Devils Lake State Natural Area boundaries

December 25, 2016 Peninsula Daily News

The outgoing commissioner of public lands has added 3,393 acres to the Dabob Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area. Earlier in the month, Goldmark also authorized the expansion from 80 to 495 acres of the Devils Lake conservation area, which protects additional forest shoreline habitat near Quilcene Bay on Hood Canal.

NWI's 2017 Plant-A-Thon sets a record as volunteers plant 6500 trees and shrubs

February 17, 2017, Peninsula Daily News

140 volunteers from five East Jefferson County schools planted a record 6,500 trees and shrubs in one day during the 11th Northwest Watershed Institute Plant-A-Thon at the Tarboo Wildlife Preserve. "The Plant-A-Thon has become the largest environmental service project in East Jefferson County", said Jude Rubin, NWI's Director of Stewardship and Public Outreach.

DNR buys forested slopes above Tarboo Bay for conservation

January 23, 2017, Peninsula Daily News

Pope Resources sold 159 acres to the state Department of Natural Resources for $899,000 on Dec. 29. “This parcel is an important addition to the Natural Area and will help provide long-term protection to Dabob Bay’s water quality, shellfish beds and wildlife habitat,” said Peter Bahls, a biologist and director of the Northwest Watershed Institute, a conservation group that helped with the acquisition.

Honorary Tree Cards for 2017 Plant-A-Thon now available

November 18, 2016, Peninsula Daily News

The tree cards — one for each of the 3,000 native trees that students and their families will plant at a salmon stream restoration site this February — are on sale now in preparation for the holidays. Each card can be personalized to plant a tree honoring someone special. The image on the cards this year is by Port Townsend artist Amanda Kingsley, who was commissioned by the Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI) and four local schools to create it.

Proposed expansion of Dabob Bay and Devils Lake Natural Areas receives strong support from NWI, partners, and landowners at public hearing

November 2, 2016, Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader

Most of those attending an Oct. 25 hearing in Quilcene voiced support of the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposal to expand the Dabob Bay and Devils Lake Natural Areas. If approved, this would give DNR the opportunity to seek funding and work with willing landowners to permanently protect some of east Jefferson County's most beautiful and important environments on a landscape scale. The proposal would expand the Devils Lake Natural Resource Conservation Area by 415 acres and the Dabob Bay Natural Area by 4,345 acres.

NWI’s YES! Program training environmental stewards for the future

October 16, 2016, Peninsula Daily News

Thirteen students from three high schools in East Jefferson County recently completed field training for the newly accredited Watershed Science and Stewardship Class for the 2016-17 school year. Through the new class, NWI is working with seven natural resource organizations to encourage students to learn directly from professionals about their research, restoration and conservation projects.

NWI helps DNR buys lands around Taylor Shellfish Hatchery for conservation

October 28, 2015, Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader

More forested shoreline habitat was protected as part of the state's Dabob Bay Natural Area with DNR's purchase of 15 acres around the Taylor Shellfish Hatchery on Dabob Bay. NWI helped DNR coordinate the acquisition project.

Jude Rubin wins 2015 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award

October 16, 2015, Olympic Peninsula Environmental News

Jude Rubin, Stewardship Director for NWI, received the prestigious Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award for her many accomplishments, including coordinating NWI's annual Plant-A-Thon for over a decade, helping to pass the plastic bag ban in Port Townsend as the infamous "bag monster", and helping NWI and partner organizations protect and restore thousands of acres in the Tarboo-Dabob Bay watershed.

YES students clean up habitat and launch ideas on Global Youth Service day

May 6, 2015, U.S. Department of State website

YES students from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Tunisia hosted by AFS in Washington state, teamed up with local high school teens, fellow exchange students and AFS volunteers on Global Youth Service Day to work together on restoration projects and brainstorm how individuals can make a difference in the world.

NWI Plant-A-Thon turns 10; Teen involvement sets a new record

February 25, 2015, Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader

The Northwest Watershed Institute Plant-A-Thon celebrated its 10th anniversary with another large-scale planting event at the institute’s Tarboo Wildlife Preserve. On Feb. 14, 175 youth and adult volunteer tree planters helped to restore salmon and wildlife habitat, as well as mitigate climate impacts, by planting 3,000 native trees.

Saltmarsh and shoreline habitat restored on Tarboo Bay

Tuesday, September 23, 2014, Port Townsend Leader

Northwest Watershed Institute and contractor Reeves Excavating and Land Clearing restored a portion of Tarboo Bay’s shoreline to natural conditions by removing a bulkhead, fill dirt, house and septic system and preparing it for planting with native vegetation this winter.

Tarboo forestland gains protection

August 26, 2014, Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader.

Eighty acres of mature forest in the Tarboo Valley was permanently preserved last week through a joint project of Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI) and Jefferson Land Trust (JLT). The project marks the successful culmination of a larger forest conservation effort, totaling 238 acres, that represents one of the largest conservation easement projects completed to date in East Jefferson County.

Volunteers, young and old, plant 3,000 trees at Tarboo Creek

February 9, 2014, Peninsula Daily News

Volunteers from five schools planted 3,000 native trees and shrubs along Tarboo Creek during the ninth annual Plant-A-Thon. The 150 children, parents, grandparents and teachers planted the trees during a daylong work party Feb. 1, said Jude Rubin, director of stewardship at the Port Townsend-based Northwest Watershed Institute.

Group seeks donations to save Tarboo-area forestland

December 3, 2013, Peninsula Daily News

The Northwest Watershed Institute is $49,000 away from protecting 236 acres of forests and streams next to the Tarboo Wildlife Preserve. With a loan from supporters, the Northwest Watershed Institute bought 78 acres of mature forest in 2011 from ANE Forests Inc., a Danish corporation that was planning to clearcut the property and sell it for development.

Dabob Bay couple leaves legacy: Easement, land sale to DNR add to conservation effort

February 27, 2013, Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader

Renowned nature photographer Keith Lazelle and his wife and artist agent, Jane Hall, are leaving a living legacy at Dabob Bay – but they don’t plan on leaving it anytime soon. Lazelle and Hall granted long-term protection to their 18 acres of shoreline property. The recent acquisitions are part of a larger conservation effort of Northwest Watershed Institute and partners within the proposed boundaries of the Dabob Bay Natural Area…

On Dabob Bay, Man and Nature Nurture Preservation

November 16, 2012, The Seattle Times, Pacific NW Magazine

This article and numerous photos celebrate and discuss the outstanding natural habitats of one of Puget Sound's least developed saltmarsh estuaries - and the significant land acquisition and restoration work by Northwest Watershed Institute and partners that are making it a flagship conservation project in the region…

Students Turnout for 2012 Plant-A-Thon

February 27, 2012, Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader

After a January snowstorm postponed the eighth annual Plant-A-Thon, 125 children, parents, grandparents and teachers were rewarded with spectacular weather for their tree planting on Feb. 4. During the daylong work party, volunteers from five local schools planted 2,500 native trees and shrubs along 5 acres of Tarboo Creek and wetland pasture...

Donations Needed for Tarboo Forest Preservation

November 9, 2011, Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader

Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI) purchased 78 acres of forestland near Quilcene on Sept. 15, but needs financial help to permanently secure the land; part of a larger effort to conserve 236 acre of forest land for wildlife and sustainable forestry...


Restoring Dabob Bay and Tarboo Creek

September 15, 2011, Green-Acre Radio

Can an out-of-the-way section of Dabob Bay with only one mega-home in sight serve as a model for restoring Puget Sound? Those engaged in the effort to restore the largest intact salt-marsh in all of Hood Canal and Strait of Juan de Fuca and surrounding land think it can. Martha Baskin’s radio spot...

Restoring Dabob Bay

November 30, 2009, Washington Wildlands, Journal of the Washington Nature Conservancy

We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to restoring Tarboo-Dabob Bay on Hood Canal. This bay is one of the top three oystergrowing areas in the world… This work represents a cooperative effort among many partners—private landowners, commercial oyster growers, a cooperative timber company, the Jefferson Land Trust, Jefferson County, state and federal agencies, and the Conservancy. It has also taken the leadership of a committed biologist, Peter Bahls, whose organization, the Northwest Watershed Institute, is the catalyst...

Restoring Tarboo Creek Offers A Model for Saving Puget Sound

November 30, 2008, The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine

This feature story covers how Peter Bahls started the Tarboo Watershed Restoration Project, and highlights the involvement of landowners Scott and Susan Freeman...