A major step forward in our work to conserve 6,300 acres in Trout Lake
Columbia Land Trust is pleased to announce the success of a funding application we submitted in partnership with The Conservation Fund, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, and Green Diamond Resource Company. The $8,250,000 award will enable the future conservation of 6,378 acres of forestland through the purchase of development rights outside Trout Lake, Washington, using the federal Forest Legacy Program.
The project will help support a thriving forestry workforce in south central Washington, underpinning hundreds of jobs. When complete, this conservation effort will also protect Trout Lake’s drinking water supply, conserve critical habitat for fish and wildlife, and ensure public recreation access, which is a thriving contributor to the regional economy.
With this funding, over the next two years the Washington Department of Natural Resources will purchase forest conservation easements from Green Diamond Resource Company who will continue to own and manage the land for timber resources. Conservation easements are a legal tool that, in this case, extinguish development rights on the land while keeping it in forestry and in private ownership. Therefore, forests and the economy of forestry continue without threat of conversion to development. The role of Columbia Land Trust was to develop the funding application and generate support for the project through our longtime relationships with local communities.Supporters included Yakama Nation, Klickitat County, American Whitewater, American Forest Management, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Trout Lake Community Council, WKO mills, Glacier Springs Water Association U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and U.S. Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.
This award completes the first phase of project funding, and the same group of partners is currently applying for the second phase, which will lead to conservation easements covering more than 11,800 additional acres and ensuring continued forest practices. The lands to be conserved and kept in productive forestry are woven into a landscape of working forests, state forestland, national forest, and other lands conserved by Columbia Land Trust. Forestry, in this landscape, is vital to the economy. There are three lumber mills in the region that depend on this source for wood products keeping the economy of forestry, jobs and mills connected to the region.
Ensuring forests of the Columbia River region are protected is an essential part of Columbia Land Trust’s mission. Forests remove and store carbon which helps stem climate change impacts. Trees filter and hold water and are a renewable resource for wood products people rely on, in addition to providing habitat to an array of birds and animals.
“We have been fortunate to work with incredible partners and community leaders on this application,” said Conservation Lead Nate Ulrich. “We are thrilled with this initial success and can’t wait to celebrate the conservation easement acquisition that this funding will enable.”
The Forest Legacy program is administered by the U.S. Forest Service in partnership with state agencies to encourage the protection of privately owned forest lands through conservation easements or land purchases. These working forests protect water quality and provide wildlife habitat, forest products, opportunities for recreation and other public benefits. Since its creation in 1990, the program has conserved over three million acres of forest land and expanded across the country to 53 states and territories.
Thank you to the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Green Diamond Resource Company and The Conservation Fund, for their partnership and support.