Land buy adds 2,200 acres to Nisqually Community Forest
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Nisqually Community Forest will add 2,200 acres of land purchased for $9.6 million, effectively doubling the protected forest’s size.
The Nisqually Indian Tribe and Nisqually Land Trust partnered to protect the land located west of Gifford Pinchot National Forest and north of the Nisqually Community Forest, according to a news release.
“The Nisqually Tribe has always been our primary partner,” said land trust executive director Jeanette Dorner. “But this project brings that partnership to a new level, and one that we couldn’t be more proud of.”
The Tribe purchased 1,240 acres on the west side of the parcel while the land trust contributed 960 acres on the east side, the News Tribune reported. This is the largest transaction the land trust has undertaken since its founding 32 years ago and the first purchase of industrial timberlands by the tribe.
“It’s really a repatriation of lands historically used by the Nisqually people,” said David Troutt, director of the tribe’s Natural Resources Department.
The two purchases include over 3 miles of critical salmon habitat along Busy Wild Creek, which forms the headwaters of the Mashel River, the primary tributary to the Nisqually River.
Nisqually Chinook salmon and steelhead trout are both found in the creek, according to the release. Both fish are considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Joe Kane, Nisqually Community Forest general manager, coordinated the project that resulted in the two simultaneous purchases.
“Steelhead have taught us that we have to think big,” Kane said. “They need big landscapes.”
The land acquisition also secures most of the Mount Tahoma Trails Association’s hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail, the release says.
“That trail is used by over 5,000 people every year,” Kane said. “It provides high-quality public recreation and it’s a local economic driver.”