Community benefits from land acquisition in Tukwila

The City of Tukwila and Forterra has closed on a land transaction with a private owner to expand the Duwamish Hill Preserve, a historically, culturally and ecologically significant piece of land along the Duwamish River in north Tukwila. The City purchased 1.9 acres from owner Elmer James White, Jr. increasing the Preserve to 10.5 acres total.

The purchase was completed on Aug. 27, 2012.

This acquisition increases the benefits this already-valuable property provides to the Tukwila community. It secures hard-to-find additional public open/green space in a highly-developed area of the city; helps buffer the Preserve from industrial sites and sounds to the west of the property; allows for completion of the Preserve’s proposed trail network and interpretive plans along with restoration of water filtration functions; and secures protection and public ownership of 200-plus feet of Duwamish River frontage, further enabling highly desirable waterfront trail connectivity and shoreline restoration for salmon habitat.

“The city is a partner and a beneficiary of this project. It took all the partners to share the same vision to make this possible,” said Tukwila Councilmember De’Sean Quinn. “The property will remain in public ownership in perpetuity for all in the community and region to enjoy.”

The land was purchased using a combination of city excise taxes and grants from King Conservation Futures and 4Culture.

“This expansion of the Preserve is an incredibly wonderful addition,” said Terry Lavender, King County Conservation Futures Citizen Advisory committee chair. “I’ve been so impressed with the way the project has been supported by local people for restoration, trail building and more. It’s clearly a much beloved park.”

Lavender continued, explaining that Conservation Futures is a funding source available to King County and all cities within. “It’s great when the cities apply for money because there are really important places to be conserved within cities. As cities become denser and neighborhoods more crowded, local parks become more important.”

“Preserving one of the Puget Sound’s most significant Coast Salish spiritual places is a long-term project we have been proud to support in partnership with the City of Tukwila and Forterra,” said Debra Twersky,  4Culture Arts Cultural Facilities program manager. “It’s imperative to preserve this place so residents and visitors can learn the about Grandmother’s home and how the hill is central in the epic Native tale of our regional weather.”

Forterra worked with the landowner and the City of Tukwila from start to finish completing this project, helping to secure funding, negotiate the transaction, and facilitate the purchase and sale agreement with Mr. White.

“The Duwamish Hill Preserve is a great success story,” said Gene Duvernoy, Forterra president. “A broad partnership came together to conserve a piece of land that provides habitat benefits for wildlife and environmental, educational and recreational benefits for the Tukwila community. Conservation efforts such as these help us advance the Cascade Agenda, a long-range plan for the region’s sustainable economies, communities, and lands.”

The Preserve was created in 2004 when the City of Tukwila and Forterra (then the Cascade Land Conservancy) purchased 8.6 acres of land, also from Elmer James White, Jr., that were slated for industrial development. After six years of restoration work by volunteers, the Preserve opened to the public in 2010. It now includes an outdoor classroom area, established trail and continued restoration opportunities for volunteers. The land is managed as a public open space preserve dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of its rich Native American cultural history, ecological importance and community impact.


Forterra is an unconventional land trust that works across Washington’s communities and landscapes, from the ranches and shrub-steppe of the Yakima basin, to the estuaries, farms and forests of Washington’s coast, reaching more than 100 counties, cities, towns and rural communities. Working cooperatively with people and nature, Forterra drives land stewardship, management and planning; innovative programs and policies; farming and forestry approaches; community ownership opportunities; and development solutions. Visit

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