The objectives of this project are to preserve the salmon habitat, pristine shoreline, open space, forests, streams, and historical and tribal values at Wood's Landing and Columbia Grove, and to create opportunities for fisheries research, education, restoration and enhancement. The preservation project protects one of the last historic viewsheds along the Lewis and Clark River Trail in the City of Vancouver. The project uses private mechanisms and property tools to protect the subject properties in perpetuity. It is designed to achieve conservation in the context of the area's already established residential use. The Columbia Grove property is a 4 ½ acre portion of 160 acres originally purchased by Henry J. Biddle in 1890.
Project partners are Columbia Land Trust, City of Vancouver, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Louise B. Wood Trust, Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center, and the Erskine B. Wood Family. Consulted and interested parties include the Yakima Nation, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Clark County Historical Museum, Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Planning Committee, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Wild Salmon Center, Washington Trout, Trust for Public Lands, Ecotrust, and numerous individuals..
Wood's Landing is the largest identified Lower Columbia River chum production site between Grays River near the mouth of the Columbia River and Hardy/Hamilton Creeks just below Bonneville Dam. The project protects 1,509 linear feet of tidelands, which provides habitat for the Wood's Landing population of chum salmon, an imperiled species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The project restores Joseph's Creek as salmon recovery habitat and provides opportunities for supplementation that will help re-establish populations in the Lower Columbia. The natural areas supporting salmon habitat, including forests, streams, and wetlands, are protected through acquisition and/or conservation easements.
In February, 2004, the then-owner/developer entered into an Option to Purchase, which expired one year later, on March 1. Project partners put together the total funding package and exercised the option on March 1, 2005, just hours before it expired. The lot was divided into a private parcel and a community parcel, together called Columbia Grove. The private parcel, consisting of the house and garden, was purchased by Erskine Wood (the great-grandson of Henry J. Biddle) and his wife Sandy through private funding. They placed a conservation easement on the historic home and garden to prevent development in perpetuity. The community parcel was purchased by Columbia Springs for educational programming. The City of Vancouver contributed toward the purchase through its stormwater fees, and Clark County contributed through conservation futures funding. Other highly competitive grants from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Pacific Flyway Project were awarded as well. In May, 2005, another critical piece of property, Mimsi Marsh, was purchased and put into City Parks Department ownership. The marsh is a wetland that is part of the Wood’s Landing ecological complex.
The Wood’s Landing Preservation Project has drawn together over 200 people and numerous agencies and groups in pursuit of conservation. In May, 2005, the Project received the Spirit of the Salmon Award from CRITFC. It also received the Sammy Award for Conservation from Clark County.
The house built by Erskine and Rebecca Wood was a fine example of western homes and gardens. In 1948 it was the feature article of the well known magazine “House Beautiful”. Rebecca Biddle Wood passed away in the early 50’s. Erskine Wood, Sr later married Louise; they continued to live on the Columbia until the mid 80’s. When the house and land became too much to manage in their later years, they were sold to the Schofield family. After Mr. Scholfield died, and Mrs Schofield left in 2001, due to illness, the land was purchased by a developer. Upon hearing plans for the bulldozing of the house, cutting down numerous significant trees, disruption of the ecosystem for the chum salmon, and a potental for high density development , the Wood family organized to save the property.
When Erskine and Sandy finally purchased the property in 2005, years of deterioration were evident and aggressive weeds had fully overtaken the once beautiful gardens. Landscaping plants had been destroyed by the developer. Since March 1, 2005, the house has gone through major restoration to its former beauty and great progress has been made in restoring the gardens and removing invasive plants. The lands surrounding the historic house and gardens including shoreline, tidelands, and wetlands adjacent to the Columbia River and Joseph’s Creek were placed into permanent conservation. Additional adjacent lands owned by the Wood family were also placed into conservation easements.