It all started in 1915 when the original 74 acres was purchased by The Mountaineers with the help of Edward Paschall of Hidden Ranch. Edward Paschall’s daughters, Mary and Patience, donated an additional 57 acres to the Rhododendron Preserve in 1955 and 1963. The Preserve gradually grew to 170 acres by 1986. That same year, the land was deeded to the Mountaineers Foundation (now doing business as Keta Legacy Foundation) to be held in perpetuity as a nature conservancy.
Time truly flies when you are doing what you love! In the Foundation’s case, that’s restoring the Preserve and protecting it as a wild space for wildlife, people, and salmon. In 2022 alone, we:
Over the years, the Foundation has actively added acreage to the Rhododendron Preserve and today it totals more than 500 acres including conservation easements. We have been able to grow the Preserve and do the restoration work necessary to conserve this critical habitat through generous donations to our Land Acquisition program.
- Removed the last remnants of the original homestead in Hidden Valley and erected a pavilion for educational purposes;
- Replaced the old bridge across Wildcat Creek;
- Cleaned cement and other debris out of Chico and Wildcat creeks, creating streams that better support salmon; and,
- Built a new deck around Big Tree to protect the root system from visitor traffic.
We are just halfway through 2023 and we’ve already made some great strides at the Preserve. We have planted more than 900 native trees and plants as part of the restoration of Hidden Valley. And the Washington Conservation Corps just finished removing a ton of invasive species at both the former Rodarmel property along Seabeck Highway and in Hidden Valley. We rented a 30-yard dumpster for the Rodarmel cleanup, and they nearly filled it up with garbage and ivy pulled off the hillside behind the parcel. Removing invasive species on the Preserve is critical to ensuring that native plants and trees, both new and established, thrive with minimal competition for resources, most notably water and space. The Foundation could not have come this far over these five-plus decades without you – our donors and board members. We look forward to seeing you on the Preserve to see all the great work being done.
– Jeff Wirtz, President