In the fast-growing Snoqualmie Valley where land deals usually mean more development, it looks like one local land sale is bucking that trend.
In November, Mountains to Sound Greenway (MTSG) was excited to announce that the gateway to the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River Valley was officially conserved.
MTSG described the land deal as an “important milestone in the community-driven clean-up and improvement of the Middle Fork and its future as a recreation hub for the upper Snoqualmie Valley.”
The purchase of 82 acres of timberland neighboring the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River also ensures more room to roam in the popular Mailbox Peak trailhead area.
The land, which had been owned and harvested by local timber companies for more than 100 years, was headed toward development. Now, it will be added to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) owned by the state of Washington and managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“We are delighted to add this property to the conservation area,” said Brock Milliern, statewide recreation manager for DNR. “It’s a natural gateway to some of Washington state’s most beautiful trails. We needed to improve the access points and amenities to serve the growing number of recreation users – now we have room to do this.”
The Trust for Public Land negotiated and managed the purchase, which was funded with help from King County, as well as DNR. King County will hold a conservation easement on the property that ensures the land will be retained forever in a natural, open space and scenic condition.
“We are proud of our partnership role in this acquisition, which will preserve this precious habitat for future generations,” said Kevin Brown, King County Parks Director.
It’s a sentiment shared by others.
“We helped to establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway more than 25 years ago,” said Paul Kundtz, state director of The Trust for Public Land. “It’s enormously rewarding to conserve this beautiful land in the face of the explosive housing growth around North Bend.”
“The Middle Fork Snoqualmie is one of the most popular recreation areas in the Mountains to Sound Greenway,” said Jon Hoekstra, executive director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “It’s an easy drive from Seattle, and only minutes from North Bend’s restaurants and shops. These parcels sit right at the entry of this amazing wild valley and it is a real win to see them remain as a forested gateway for generations to come.”
DNR, King County, Greenway Trust and The Trust for Public Land are exploring options for the property, possibly by restoring roads and access points remaining from timber harvesting as the basis for establishing ADA-friendly trails. This purchase also enables DNR to provide better access and amenities for those coming to hike Mailbox Peak.