Forterra completes Lake Serene Trail property purchase

Nonprofit to preserve land for recreation, connections

Kelly Sullivan

Forterra has closed on its purchase of the Lake Serene Trail property that had been slated for logging back in 2017.

The Seattle land conservancy made the announcement this month, almost a year after the successful public fundraiser to purchase the 190-acre property ended. The total cost was estimated at $800,000, with $525,000 coming from a Snohomish County Conservation Futures grant.

“Now, the over 45,000 hikers of all ages and experience levels can continue to enjoy its breathtaking views each year,” according to Forterra.

The nonprofit works to preserve keystone lands in the region, targeting the Great Northern Corridor, which runs from the Salish Sea to the Skykomish Valley.

The nonprofit had to act fast to secure the land last year. Timberland and wood products company Weyerhaeuser announced plans last summer to log forest surrounding the Lake Serene Trail near Index along U.S. Highway 2.

The popular route also leads to Bridal Veil Falls and is believed to be one of the most traveled in the region.

Fundraising began in the middle of August. About 600 hikers, climbers and community members contributed, and the Washington Trail Association reported 1,000 activists spoke up.

About every $2,000 of the $275,000 donated saved an acre.

“It was a true all-hands community effort,” said Forterra president and CEO Michelle Connor in a news release. “I’m humbled and inspired by the huge array of funders and partners who stepped up, from Snohomish County, to fellow nonprofits, recreation groups and outdoor retailers.”

The WTA, The Mountaineers, Washington Alpine Club, Washington-based companies Outdoor Research and REI “played an especially pivotal role,” according to the release.

Some logging did take place near the trail last year. Forterra made sure a buffer of trees was left in tact.

The Sky Valley Environmental and Economic Alliance (SVENA) and other local groups, in reference to the halted Singletary Timber Sale that was planned for the Reiter Foothills State Forest further east, say those buffers do little to maintain the aesthetics of the scenery; that they aren’t enough to mitigate negative impacts to the area’s recreation industry.

Less than half of the property was harvested under Forterra’s agreement with Weyerhaeuser. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest closed the trails to Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls during the work. While it was shut down, the U.S. Forest Service made improvements to the trailhead parking lot and facilities, including the restrooms.

Now that the trail is reopened, the public will never lose access again, according to Forterra.

The nonprofit’s staff has worked with Weyerhaeuser to limit the scope of the harvest in other ways. The plan will protect the creek that carries water from Bridal Veil Falls.

“We have worked with the landowner to divert a new logging road away from the trail and habitat areas,” according to Forterra. “Approximately 60 acres of second- and third-growth timber, away from the trail, will be harvested to reduce acquisition cost, and will be replanted with more diverse species.”

Forterra is involved in other projects up and down the valley, including another fundraising campaign with a looming deadline.

The nonprofit has honed in on a section of hillside above Skykomish to save from clear-cutting. The town’s residents are working with Forterra to preserve 320 acres of Maloney Forest, which its namesake creek traverses. The landscape includes 50 acres of old-growth trees and critical wildlife habitat.

“The forest is at risk of logging—unless we secure it now,” according to Forterra. “We won’t have a second chance.”

The organization reports there is one month to come up with the funds. They have until Nov. 1 to raise $1 million needed to acquire the property.

At the same time, Monroe city staff has begun talks with help from Forterra to acquire the 43-acre property known as East of Monroe, which is owned by Heritage Baptist Church.

The city had reached out to the group for a letter of support when applying for — and later receiving — a $500,000 Snohomish County Conservation Futures Board as part of its effort to acquire the property. That resulted in a meeting.

“Forterra has a goal to rebuild the economy of the Skykomish Valley by conserving natural resources, providing outdoor recreation opportunities and revitalizing valley communities,” according to council documents.

Photo courtesy of Forterra: The Seattle-based nonprofit Forterra has completed the $800,000 purchase of Lake Serene Trail property from Weyerhaeuser.


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