The popular King County recreation destination is home to Mailbox Peak and forest stands that are up to 500 years old
The final parcel of trust land within the boundary of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area has been moved into permanent conservation status after the Board of Natural Resources approved the transaction during its Tuesday meeting.
The conservation of the 26-acre parcel abutting the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River was paid for through the Trust Land Transfer program, funded by the Legislature. The $140,000 price of the transaction pays the Common School Trust for the value of the property, supporting K-12 school construction across Washington state, and provides money for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to acquire replacement revenue-generating property elsewhere in the state.
“We are blessed to have some of the most amazing public lands in Washington state, and I am excited to see the completion of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie conservation area,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the elected official who oversees DNR. “This landscape is a wonder for all Washingtonians to enjoy, and one that is now preserved for all generations.”
The Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA was established in 2011, stretching across more than 9,000 acres of King County between the Middle and South Forks of the Snoqualmie River. It is home to the popular hiking destination of Mailbox Peak, which rewards people who take on the steep climb with commanding views of the region.
The age of forest communities varies over the landscape, with stands ranging from 15 to more than 500 years old. The majority of the lower elevation forests are 70 to 80 years old, with more recently harvested and replanted patches that are 15 to 30 years old. The oldest forests, some more than 500 years old, are found at higher elevations.
The Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA is adjacent to the Mount Si NRCA, which combine to provide a 23,000-acre block of lands that protect critical wildlife and plant habitat while allowing for low-impact recreation such as hiking.
For nearly 50 years, the Legislature has trusted DNR to manage conservation lands as an enduring resource for present and future generations. From oak woodlands to arid grasslands to unique bogs, DNR’s Natural Area Preserves protect and preserve rare species and ecosystems while providing research and education opportunities. The department’s Natural Resources Conservation Areas carry a similar conservation mission but also allow for low-impact recreation in their landscapes. Some of Washington’s most popular recreation destinations – places like Mount Si, Gothic Basin, and Tiger Mountain – are included within the conservation area system.
DNR’s Natural Areas program manages more than 165,000 acres in 57 preserves and 38 conservation areas throughout Washington. The primary management issues in natural areas include controlling non-native invasive species, restoring ecological functions in previously altered areas, and providing appropriate access for environmental education or low-impact recreation.
The Board of Natural Resources meeting was conducted remotely as part of DNR’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.