State purchases almost 600 acres of forest for preservation

The Associated Press
Tacoma News Tribune


Olympia, WA - The state has bought 597 acres of forest near Mount Si for conservation and preservation.

The state Department of Natural Resources paid $4.25 million for the property, which will become part of the Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area in east King County. The area includes three large lakes, and the views take in the Snoqualmie Tree Farm, the cities of Bellevue and Seattle, and on a clear day the Olympic mountain range.

"It is a spectacular sub-alpine property," said Michelle Connor, regional conservation director for the Cascade Land Conservancy. "You're in a basin so you really feel you're in a wild place."

The private, nonprofit conservation group first approached the owner of the property, Crown Lakes LLC, seven years ago, hoping to arrange a sale of the pristine property. While taxpayer money paid for the land, the Cascade Land Conservancy will raise money and supply volunteers to create and maintain trails.

Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland called the property "an excellent complement to the Mountains to Sound Greenway" and a valuable addition to "the dwindling legacy of undeveloped forest land in King County."

The property has been logged once, 20 years ago and still includes stands of old-growth trees, Connor said. It connects with the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Recreation area and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.

"Cascade Land Conservancy convinced us of the genuine public benefits in having the Crown Lakes' basin protected," said Gordon Hoenig, a representative of Crown Lakes, LLC. "Based on extensive negotiations we came to agree that this unique legacy property should be turned over for public stewardship."


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