Forterra Saves Some of the Last Remaining Unprotected Old Growth Forest in King County
SEATTLE – On December 29, Forterra completed two land transactions spanning 376 acres along the western edge of the Cascade Mountains, 300 of these holding pristine old growth forest. The acreage represents some of the last unprotected stands of ancient western hemlock and silver fir, habitat critical for northern spotted owls and marbled murrelets.
Forterra worked closely with the Washington Department of Natural Resources on the sale, which resulted in one more success in a long collaborative effort to preserve the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley for the next generations.
The transactions were secured with contributions including $1.2 million in grant funding to the Washington Department of Natural Resources from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Both parcels were bought from a local private company, Cugini Land and Timber, which has owned, logged and milled timber for three generations. The lands will be managed under a conservation easement retained by the Department of Natural Resources, which guarantees they will remain untouched forever.
The two completed transactions are:
- Blethen Lake, located in the upper Quartz Creek area in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River valley. A total of 220 acres includes a secluded lake, 160 acres of old growth forest and 50 acres of talus, shrub and meadow. The land provides nesting habitat for both spotted owl and marbled murrelet. This parcel has now been added to the Mt. Si Natural Resources Conservation Area.
- Titicaed Creek, located in the North Fork Tolt River watershed. A total of 156 acres includes 128 acres of old growth as well as Titicaed Creek and tributary. Marbled murrelets have nested on this land, which has never been logged.
These undeveloped properties provide high quality habitat for a wide range of animals, including fishers, pikas, black bear, wolverines, pine martens and cougars. The stands of moss-laden old growth trees— western hemlock, silver fir, 500-year-old cedar, Douglas firs that measure six feet in diameter— have also been home to a variety of birds including pileated woodpeckers, northern goshawk and peregrine falcons.
Forterra has for years worked to acquire the last unprotected old-growth forests in King County—natural treasures that have anchored the ecosystem and culture of the Pacific Northwest for hundreds of years. The lands at Blethen Lake and Titicaed Creek are particular prizes because they are adjacent to already protected lands in national forest and state natural areas.
"These are keystone properties that are part of the legacy that have made the Cascades an extraordinary backdrop for our community," said Michelle Connor, Forterra’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Enterprises.
This acquisition speaks to the power of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, said Gene Duvernoy, President of Forterra, adding that the fund could be in jeopardy this year given the changes in Washington D.C.
The transactions are the largest old growth acquisitions in Forterra’s 27-year history.
“These are remarkable legacy timberlands,” said Robert Cugini, thanking Forterra for its help in preserving and protecting both properties. “The Cugini family is delighted to honor the memory of our grandparents and our father with this transfer of rare and pristine old growth timberlands and lovely alpine lake. After more than 85 years of family history in the forest products industry, we are very appreciative of the priceless characteristics of these properties. The woods were our grandfather’s favorite place to spend time in nature and he would be pleased that these unique wilderness properties will be preserved in perpetuity.”
“Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Forterra and the partnerships they have forged, these treasured properties are assured permanent protection from development,” said Peter Goldmark, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands.