Woodard Bay NRCA
Environmental Education and Public Access
Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) is a popular destination for environmental education, offering interpretive signs, interpretive shelter, historical interpretive structure, and three hiking trails. Frequent visitors include kindergarten through 12th grade students and higher education classes. The site provides opportunities for visitors to learn about native wildlife species and native forest, nearshore and wetland ecosystems. For information on educational opportunities and for tours with groups larger than 10 people please contact South Puget Sound Region, Natural Areas Manager.
- No pets allowed to help conserve the ecology of this site.
- Garbage service is not provided. Pack out what you pack in.
- Day use only.
Recreation alert: To protect nesting birds, the Overlook Trail is closed mid-March - August 15 each year. The kayak launch is closed September 1 - April 15 each year.
Science, Research and Monitoring
Public and private universities, other research institutions or individual researchers may contact DNR to propose a research project at the site. If you are interested in pursuing research at Woodard Bay NRCA, please contact David Wilderman, Natural Areas Ecologist at firstname.lastname@example.org
Examples of research and monitoring projects
- Woodard Bay NRCA was one of four locations included in a 2018 'bioblitz' project to inventory neashore invertebrate fauna in the south Puget Sound: http://pacshell.org/pdf/BioBlitz_Poster.pdf.
- 2009 SPS Observation Report
- 2008 Purple Martin Monitoring (Capital High School Senior Project)
- 2007 Olympia Oyster Restoration
Volunteer and Stewardship Opportunities
DNR hosts several volunteer work days at Woodard Bay NRCA throughout the year. For upcoming volunteer and stewardship opportunities, please contact Michele Zukerberg, DNR Natural Areas Manager at 360-902-1417.
Restoration at Woodard Bay NRCA
From the 1920s until the 1980s, when the site was legislatively designated as an NRCA, Woodard Bay was operated by Weyerhaeuser Co. as a log transfer facility. The creosote-laden remnants of the industrial structures have been providing habitat for important wildlife species like bats, seals, herons and cormorants. However, the structures also obstruct important nearshore processes and contribute to the degradation of water quality. DNR partnered with several organizations to complete a sediment characterization and feasibility study to develop ecosystem process-based restoration alternatives for the aquatic environment at the site. The study prioritized protection for important species present at the site including bats, seals, Olympia oysters, shorebirds and waterfowl.
Restoration was completed in 2013 and included the following actions:
- Removal of 2100 tons of creosoted-material including:
- Woodard Bay Trestle
- 50% of the Chapman Bay Pier
- 600 anchor pilings from Henderson Inlet
- Removal of 12,000 cubic yards of fill from Woodard Bay
- Installation of 50 nesting boxes for purple martins
- Restoration of 30 acres of riparian and upland habitat
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Squaxin Island Tribe
- The Nature Conservancy
- US Army Corps of Engineers
- Washington Department of Ecology
Attachments and Links
- Woodard Bay Restoration Feasibility Study (Windward Environmental LLC)
- Woodard Bay Sediment Characterization, Final Assessment Report (SAIC) and Appendices
- Boomtime - A history of the Woodard Bay NRCA
Directions to the Site
From Olympia: Travel north on East Bay Drive, which becomes Boston Harbor Road. Turn right onto Woodard Bay Road. Travel about ~ 1.5 miles and the road jogs to the left then picks up again to the right. Follow Woodard Bay Rd to the bottom of the hill. The parking area is on your left, just before the bridge.
From I-5 Southbound: Follow I-5 towards Olympia. Take Exit 109 (Martin Way Exit) towards Sleater-Kinney Road. Turn right onto Sleater-Kinney Rd NE. Travel approximately 4.5 miles then continue straight onto 56th Ave NE for 0.4 miles. At "T" turn right onto Shincke Rd NE going 0.5 mi. The road curves to the left and becomes Woodard Bay Rd NE then it curves to the right. Cross the bridge over Woodard Bay and the parking lot is on your right.
From I-5 Northbound: Take I-5 north to the Port of Olympia exit. Travel north on Plum St., which becomes East Bay Dr and then Boston Harbor Rd. Turn right onto Woodard Bay Road. Travel about ~ 1.5 miles and the road jogs to the left then picks up again to the right. Follow Woodard Bay Rd to the bottom of the hill. The parking area is on your left, just before the bridge.
A Washington State Discover Pass is required for parking at this site. This funding helps DNR manage these important natural areas across the state.