A creek runs through it: Ranch sprouts a 12-acre haven for nature

Property owner puts a priority on restoring fish and tree populations


As part of his effort to preserve the West Hylebos Creek, Federal Way resident Donald Barovic, 80, plants trees on his land and disperses salmon by the truckful into the creek.

Barovic grew up in the motion picture business, but has since settled down on his farm, Barovic’s Broken Back Ranch. The West Hylebos Creek is a central focus on the farm.

On this morning, the sun filters through the trees onto Barovic’s property. The creek can be heard rolling over stones and children giggle in the distance. An old truck is parked to the left of the long driveway and a patch of freshly-planted saplings, some bursting with small pink flowers, can be seen directly behind the truck.

Barovic insists on a tour of his ranch, which is just shy of 12 acres and keeps him busy with daily chores such as tending to his goats, collecting chicken eggs and protecting the creek.

On March 15, he passed the day by purchasing and planting 105 saplings and shrubs. Fir, pine, spruce, cedar, hemlock, dogwood, cherry, pear and apple trees were all given a home on his farm, as were Salmonberry, Tall Oregon Grape and Beaked Hazelnut, among others.

“That’s all stuff I was advised was helpful to the overall restoration (of the creek),” Barovic said.

Each was planted with a white stick, adorned with a cut of yellow ribbon next to it. Three small tree farms can be found on the ranch. The trees will later be transplanted to the banks of the creek, Barovic said. He hopes this will help restore the creek and its fish population.

In the past, Barovic has invited the Puyallup Indian tribe to deposit 12,000 salmon from its hatcheries into the 750-foot

portion of the creek on his land, Barovic said.

The tribe later brought deceased fish to Barovic’s property to nourish and shelter fish eggs, he said.

During the 33 years he has owned his property, Barovic has kept in mind the fragility of the creek and its beauty. He hopes to keep the portion that runs through his land clean and enjoyable for future generations.

“It’s just a matter of time and money to get myself in a position and desire to take more land and isolate it to growing vegetation for creek enhancement,” he said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 385-5565.