Forterra and the Tulalip Tribes have acquired five parcels along the Wallace River in Snohomish County to protect critical salmon habitat in the Skykomish River Basin. The purchase was funded by Snohomish County Conservation Futures and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
Forterra purchased the property for $490,000 in July 2015 with the intent to transfer the property to the Tulalip Tribes for perpetual management. The transfer was completed in November. A conservation easement and deed of right insure that the property will not be developed.
“Our responsibilities to the land and each other continue to be at the heart of our Coast Salish culture. We are honored to be tasked with the management in perpetuity of our ancestral lands along the Wallace River. Thanks to the good work of our partners at Forterra and the Recreation and Conservation Office 1.25 miles of critical habitat represents another positive step towards a lasting recovery,” said Melvin Sheldon Jr., Chairman of the Tulalip Tribes.
The property contains wetlands, riparian habitat and mature forestland. It provides habitat for four types of salmon—Chinook, coho, pink and chum—as well as for bull trout. A state salmon hatchery is across the river. The land is also home to black bear, elk, deer and beaver.
“This is rich and diverse salmon habitat of great cultural significance and Forterra couldn’t be more proud to return this property to the Tulalip people who have stewarded these resources for generations,” said Michelle Connor, Executive Vice President, Strategic Enterprises.
“In the past several years the county has worked with many different funding partners to preserve thousands of acres of habitat, open space and agricultural lands throughout Snohomish County. The County values the opportunity to work with Forterra, the State of Washington Recreation and Conservation Office, local tribes and other partners in preserving great properties. In this case, the county was proud to be the primary funding agent, bringing forward $280,000 in Conservation Futures funds to help with preservation of this salmon habitat. The County Executive and the Council have fully supported these important acquisitions,” said Tom Teigen, Director of Snohomish County Parks and Recreation.
“This is a fantastic project,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administered the $250,000 grant used to help purchase the land. “The Tulalip Tribes and Forterra worked together to protect this high quality habitat used by three different species of salmon. By conserving these places important to salmon, we improve our chances of rescuing them from the brink of extinction. This work helps ensure that salmon remain an important part of our economy, culture and heritage.”
The acquisition is near other conserved lands including Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Natural Resource Conservation Areas in the Sultan Basin, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and the Wild Sky Wilderness. Highway 2 and a Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad spur cut across the lower portion of the property which borders DNR forest trust lands and provides a natural vista along the scenic byway.