WASHINGTON STATE DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES
NISQUALLY LAND TRUST * NISQUALLY INDIAN TRIBE
US FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE * HANCOCK TIMBER RESOURCE GROUP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2009
Nisqually Land Trust announces purchase of 720 acres of high-priority conservation land
- Agreement with Hancock Timber Resource Group aims to create wildlife corridor between Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Elbe Hills State Forest
- Acquisition in Pierce County, Washington is the largest in organization’s history
- State Department of Natural Resources to hold permanent conservation easement on property
OLYMPIA – In its largest acquisition to date, the Nisqually Land Trust today announced the acquisition of 720 acres of environmentally sensitive land in Pierce County, Washington, from the Hancock Timber Resource Group.
The parcel is located in the Kapowsin Forest, near the main entrance to Mount Rainier National Park and directly north of the community of Ashford. The Land Trust considers it a critical addition to a proposed wildlife corridor between the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Elbe Hills State Forest.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold a conservation easement on the property in perpetuity, ensuring its use as wildlife habitat and preventing future development.
“We are very pleased to announce the acquisition of this parcel, our largest acquisition ever. This land is known to be frequented by spotted owls, marbled murrelets, bald eagles, elk, cougar, and many other species,” said Joe Kane, Executive Director of the Nisqually Land Trust.
“We greatly respect the work of the Nisqually Land Trust and share their commitment to protecting environmentally sensitive land,” said Derek Solmie, Pacific Northwest Project Manager, Hancock Timber Resource Group. “We take great satisfaction in being able to complete this important transaction with the Trust through our Sensitive Lands Program.”
The bulk of the purchase funds for the $2.56 million acquisition came from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant secured through DNR. In addition, the partnership securing the grant under the USFWS Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund included the Trust, the Nisqually Tribe, the Nisqually River Council, and the Nisqually Headwaters Coalition, an Ashford-based citizens group.
“This purchase shows the power of cooperation between public, private and non-profit partners to conserve our state’s most precious lands,” said State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.
The Nisqually Tribe provided additional funding for the purchase and will assist the Land Trust in managing the site’s natural resources.
“We are proud to be able to help acquire and preserve this vital environmental resource,” said Cynthia Iyall, chairman of the Nisqually Indian Tribe. “This partnership further illustrates the Nisqually’s strong commitment to protecting and enhancing environmentally sensitive lands and habitats. Our tribe is honored to be part of this effort.”
“Given its location between the State and National Forests, we believe there is strong potential to create a wildlife corridor between these two forests,” Kane said. “The property also has tremendous natural beauty, with rock bluffs and steep ravines. We are grateful to Hancock Timber for working so diligently with us to make the transaction a reality.”
The Land Trust’s purchase was part of Phase Two of its Mount Rainier Gateway Initiative, which calls for permanently protecting some 4,500 acres of timberlands near Mount Rainier National Park. One of the benefits of protecting wildlife habitat near Mount Rainier is that it conserves scenic vistas that are critical to the local tourism industry.
“To protect habitat in perpetuity, you have to make it part of a sustainable system,” Kane said. “In the Ashford area, that system includes a commitment to the long-term economic health of the community.”
Through its Sensitive Lands Program, the Hancock Timber Resource Group has helped preserve and protect nearly than 400,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands across the United States. Its largest single sensitive lands transaction was the protection of approximately 90,000 acres of timberland in King County, Washington, in 2004. Under this agreement with King County, Hancock Timber sold the development rights on the vast majority of the Snoqualmie Forest, just east of Seattle, ensuring that the land will remain a working forest in perpetuity.
Map: Newly acquired parcel near Ashford: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/em_ashford_map.pdf
Photo: Joe Kane overlooks Goat Creek Basin: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/SiteCollectionImages/Places/em_joekane_goatcreek.jpg
About the Nisqually Land Trust
The mission of the Nisqually Land Trust is to conserve and restore natural areas and wildlife habitat throughout the Nisqually River watershed and to protect those lands in perpetuity. Since 1989, the Nisqually Land Trust has acquired, for permanent protection, nearly 2,600 acres of superior wildlife habitat–from threatened old-growth forest near the Nisqually River's source to critical salmon habitat near its delta. These lands have been acquired through grants, mitigation funds, donations, and funds raised by special events such as its annual auction. For more information, visit www.nisquallylandtrust.org
About the Nisqually Indian Tribe
Drawing on its rich cultural heritage and its entrepreneurial spirit, the Nisqually Indian Tribe is a national leader in environmental stewardship and economic development. The Nisqually Tribe is known for its innovative programs to restore and protect the Nisqually River and Puget Sound, as well as its efforts to build a vibrant economy and create jobs for its members. The Tribe has a long history of working closely with its neighboring communities to find solutions to shared issues, form partnerships and improve people’s lives. While honoring its past, the Nisqually Tribe is working hard to secure a bright future.
About the Hancock Timber Resource Group
The Hancock Timber Resource Group, a division of Hancock Natural Resource Group, Inc., an operating company of MFC Global Investment Management, manages more than five million acres of timberland worth approximately $8.5 billion in the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast United States, as well as Brazil, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Additional information about Hancock Timber Resource Group may be found at www.hancocktimber.com. MFC Global is the asset management arm of Toronto-based Manulife Financial Corporation.
DNR manages more than 5.6 million acres of state-owned forest, aquatic, agricultural, conservation and urban lands. The 3 million acres of state trust lands are managed by DNR to produce income for the state’s schools, universities, prisons, state mental hospitals, community colleges, and also helps fund local services in many counties, and the state’s general fund. State trust lands also are managed to provide fish and wildlife habitat and educational and recreational opportunities.
Bob Redling, DNR, 360-902-1149; firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Kane, Nisqually Land Trust, 360-584-7386; email@example.com
Brian Carmichael, Hancock Timber Resource Group, 617-663-4748; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Graubard, Nisqually Tribe, 206-898-0706; email@example.com
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