A Seattle-based organization that secures keystone lands for preservation is trying to save the Lake Serene trail from logging.
Forterra has until the end of October to raise about $275,000 more to purchase 190 acres from Weyerhaeuser for conservation. The Washington-based timber company owns part of the property that the popular route traverses.
“The first part of the trail is on private land, and the owner is preparing to take down those trees, which they have the right to do, but we think it would be a big loss for the corridor as it has exceptional beauty,” said Forterra’s campaign director Susannah Hale during the North Sound luncheon hosted by the nonprofit last week in Everett.
The cost of purchasing the parcel, which Weyerhaeuser will only sell as a whole, is $800,000, according to Forterra. The Snohomish County Conservation Futures program and other proposed funds are already covering $525,000 of that.
The Lake Serene trail, which also leads to Bridal Veil Falls, is considered one of the most traveled in the region, according to Forterra. About 45,000 people take the hike every year.
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest announced a temporary closure of the trailhead starting on Sept. 25, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The order was issued in advance of the nearing harvest.
“The temporary closure will protect public health and safety during logging activities and allow for needed trailhead outhouse and parking upgrades,” according to the news release.
The trailhead will reopen once the harvest has ended, replanting is finished and trail repairs are completed, which should be no later than July 1, according to the release.
A section of the old logging road, which the trail runs through, will be used as a road during the harvest, according to the Washington Trails Association. Once finished, the road will be turned back into a trail. The U.S. Forest Service will improve the trailhead parking lot and facilities during the closure.
Forterra is working 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.
Less than half of the property will be logged under the deal, and timber will only be taken from a portion that is not near the trail, according to Forterra. A buffer of trees will be left along the trail and the stream.
“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.”
About $38,000 of the $275,000 has already been raised, according to Forterra. Roughly $2,000 “saves an acre.”
During the North Sound luncheon, Forterra president Gene Duvernoy spoke about the importance of building and maintaining partnerships while carrying out acquisitions. He said the nonprofit staff wanted to work justly with Weyerhaeuser, a company that has contributed to the region’s economy for more than 100 years.
In buying properties, such as the one surrounding the Lake Serene trail, it is crucial to do things the right way, Duvernoy said. The collaborative approach helps create a sustainable region, and keeps everyone working toward the same end, he said.
The Lake Serene trail is only one piece of the Great Northern Corridor, which stretches from the Salish Sea to the Skykomish Valley, according to Forterra. The nonprofit plans to work with farmers, business owners, timber companies and other members of the communities that have cropped up in the region, he said.
“Each town along the Great Northern Corridor has a different story,” Duvernoy said. “What they all have in common across the Pacific Northwest is a boom and bust cycle. Each and every one of them is a people determined to build stable economies while also holding on to the beauty and character of their towns and surrounding landscapes.”
Sky Valley Visitors Center president Debbie Copple spoke about the nine communities that have grown along the U.S. Highway 2 corridor. She said each one has its own unique spirit, but they are bound together through their industrial histories and connections to the environment.
Bill Corson, who owns the Outdoor Adventures Center in Index, joined Copple on stage. He said he has seen firsthand how the landscape offers up opportunities for locals and visitors alike to take advantage of recreational activities in the mountains and on the rivers.
“That is endless, it’s so incredible,” he said.
Photo by Kelly Sullivan: ky Valley Visitors Center president Debbie Copple and Outdoor Adventures Center owner Bill Corson spoke during the North Sound luncheon in Everett hosted by Forterra on Tuesday, Sept. 12.