The forest surrounding a section of the Lake Serene trail has been saved from getting the ax.
Nonprofit Forterra announced the funds needed to acquire the property from Weyerhaeuser have been raised. The Seattle-based organization, which works to secure keystone lands for preservation, had until Oct. 30 to amass $275,000.
“Thanks to you, the trees along the trail will be protected from logging and public access to the trail will never again be restricted,” Forterra stated in a message to the more than 600 community members who donated.
The price tag is $800,000 to purchase the roughly 190-acre parcel from Weyerhaeuser, which owns part of the terrain the popular route traverses. The Washington-based timber company agreed to sell its property as a whole for conservation. Snohomish County Conservation Futures program and other funding sources will cover about $525,000.
Fundraising began in the middle of August. About every $2,000 saved an acre. Two unexpected sources helped boost the baseline. 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, according to a Forterra news release.
As the deadline loomed, a large contribution came in from an anonymous Seattle Foundation donor, according to the release. The gift was made in memory of their friend, “who deeply loved the trail.”
The Lake Serene trail, which also leads to Bridal Veil Falls, is believed to be one of the most traveled in the region. An estimated 45,000 people take the hike every year. The footpath falls within the Great Northern Corridor that runs from the Salish Sea to the Skykomish Valley.
“The Great Northern Corridor is a sinuous stretch of land, about 70 miles long for our purposes,” according to Forterra president Gene Duvernoy, who founded the nonprofit in 1989. “Its name is ours, not one you will find on a U.S. Geological Survey map.”
It was termed as a nod to the The Great Northern railroad, which “held sway over this corridor from the last years of the 19th century,” according to Duvernoy. The nonprofit partners with the area’s farmers, business owners, timber companies and community members to protect keystone lands.
Logging will still take place near the Lake Serene trail, but Forterra’s purchase ensures a buffer of trees will be left intact. The nonprofit’s staff has worked with Weyerhaeuser to limit the scope of the harvest; the hope is to protect the creek that carries water from Bridal Veil Falls and prevent logging from crossing the trail.
“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.”
Duvernoy has spoken about building and maintaining partnerships while carrying out acquisitions. He touted the importance of working justly with Weyerhaeuser, a company that has contributed to the region’s economy for more than a century.
Less than half of the property will be harvested under their agreement. The work will be completed within the next year.
Access will be restricted for the duration, according to the release. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will close the trail from once the logging begins in November until completion in late spring 2018. While it is shut down, the U.S. Forest Service will make improvements to the trailhead parking lot and facilities, including the restroom facility.
Once the trail reopens, the public will never lose access again, according to Forterra.
Now that the Lake Serene trail is secure, Forterra is looking toward the next preservation project. The nonprofit is eyeing the 320-acre Maloney Creek property in Skykomish.
The Washington Trails Association and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance are targeting new hiking and mountain biking trails that leave from a trailhead that starts in town, according to the release. Forterra’s plan is to purchase the land that includes “old growth, critical habitat for endangered species, and protects the watershed above the town of Skykomish and the creek that flows through the town and into the Skykomish River.”
Photos courtesy of Forterra: Property surrounding the Lake Serene trail has been saved from logging. Seattle-based Forterra announced the community helped raise the funds needed to purchase the parcel of land from Weyerhaeuser.
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