Forterra eyes next big land save

Conservation nonprofit needs to raise $1 million for Maloney Forest acreage

Kelly Sullivan

Regional groups have honed in on a section of hillside above Skykomish to save from clear-cutting.

Seattle-based environmental nonprofit Forterra and the town’s residents are working 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, which works to preserve keystone lands throughout the region, reports there is less than two months to amass the necessary funds. They have until Nov. 1 to raise $1 million needed to acquire the property.

The project began in lieu of the successful campaign that saved Lake Serene Trail one year ago. About 600 people contributed portions of the $270,000 raised.

The roughly 190-acre parcel cost $800,000 to purchase from Weyerhaeuser. The Washington-based timber company agreed to sell its property as a whole for conservation. The Snohomish County Conservation Futures program and other funding sources covered the remaining $525,000.

About every $2,000 the public donated saved an acre. A couple, whose first hike together was up the Lake Serene trail, agreed to match up to $75,000 for every dollar given by the public, and as the deadline loomed, a large contribution came in from an anonymous Seattle Foundation donor.

Logging will still occur near the trail, but Forterra’s purchase ensures a buffer of trees will be left intact. The nonprofit’s staff worked with Weyerhaeuser to limit the scope of the harvest; the plan includes protecting the creek that carries water from Bridal Veil Falls and prevent logging from crossing the trail.

The Lake Serene and Maloney Forest projects are part of Forterra’s umbrella campaign to save keystone lands along the Great Northern Corridor, which stretches about 70 miles from the Salish Sea to the end of the Sky Valley.

“We can’t afford to lose these places,” according to Forterra.

The organization also just started a new partnership with the City of Monroe, which intends to buy 43 acres of property known as East Monroe from Heritage Baptist Church. The groups are working together to preserve the land as limited open space and save it for public use.

Under the plan, Forterra would buy the five parcels, and the city would later purchase it from the nonprofit using secured grant money.

“Our farmlands and timberlands are vital to our way of life and to the livelihood of rural communities in our Pacific Northwest,” according to Forterra. “These working lands provide local food, wood supply and jobs. They also provide habitat connectivity, recreation and a protective buffer for our cherished wildlands.”

Maloney Forest is the second of four targeted areas. If enough is raised for an acquisition, five miles of roads won’t be built, and a clear-cut won’t take place, which would cause forest fragmentation, according to Forterra. Watershed quality and habitat won’t be compromised.

Groups would work to improve recreation and educational opportunities, according to Forterra. This could help to “forestall the detrimental effects of climate change on critical habitat.”

The creek that runs through the forest has been the focus of federal, state and local restoration efforts in recent years. The stream has had trouble with floods, because it was realigned from its original channel in the early 1900s, according to the Association of Conservation Engineers.

Forterra’s plans include a network of biking and hiking trails near Maloney Creek for recreation. The nonprofit is pairing up with the Washington Trails Association and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance for the long-term project.

Forterra’s founder, Gene Duvernoy announced his retirement this year.

Photo courtesy of Forterra: Forterra is working to acquire 320 acres of Maloney Forest for conservation


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