• Conserves in perpetuity a key 50 acres that would otherwise fall into the hands of
• Adds the final piece to a 302-acre restoration project along Hood Canal.
• Forterra guarantor loan from the Russell Family Foundation again proves vital and timely
to securing the property for restoration and salmon habitat.
HOOD CANAL, WA —Forterra and Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG) announced today the buy, hold and transfer of 50 acres of critical salmon habitat along Big Beef Creek, a tributary to Hood Canal. The transfer of this property to HCSEG is the final step of a four-year strategy to keep this parcel from development, ensuring that the Big Beef Creek forest and watershed remain intact and realize their full potential in salmon recovery.
“We are at an urgent moment for salmon, for orcas, for our communities. Sustaining the bounty of Puget Sound requires us all to stretch to make the most of natural places, like the spectacular estuary at Big Beef Creek,” said Michelle Connor, Forterra President and CEO. “We are fortunate to have farsighted donors and guarantors who enabled us to make a critical contribution to our region’s resilience in a changing climate.”
Land as varied and healthy as lower Big Beef—with its estuary, tidelands and creek buffered by abundant upland forest—presents a rare opportunity in the world of habitat conservation. Long owned by University of Washington (UW) for salmonid and other research, the Big Beef Creek property has been restored by the effort of HCSEG over the past 15 years.
“We are thrilled to have this years-long partnership with Forterra result in such an incredible win for the fish, wildlife and people who call Hood Canal home,” said Mendy Harlow, Executive Director of CSEG. “This acquisition complements our last three decades of habitat restoration and protection that benefits ESA-listed species of salmon that are vital to the health of Hood Canal’s ecosystem.”
HCSEG, the Hood Canal Coordinating Council and UW approached Forterra in November 2017, seeking assistance to secure the site long enough for HCSEG to secure the grant funding necessary to acquire and permanently conserve the site. HCSEG secured partial funding in 2018 from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetlands Program to only secure 13 of the 15 parcels.
Forterra stepped in to purchase and finance the remaining property, using a loan guaranteed by the Russell Family Foundation, ensuring that HCSEG would have time to secure the remaining grant funds from RCO.
Earlier in September, HCSEG secured another 5 acres of private land to add to the conservation area. In a final coordinated effort among the partners, HCSEG secured the additional RCO grant to reimburse Forterra’s purchase and complete the transfer to HCSEG in the final weeks of 2021.
The land and water are in exceptionally good health, and under the stewardship of the Salmon Enhancement Group, the habitat will continue to flourish and support the migratory bald eagles and orca that feed on spawning salmon. With permanent protection of the property in hand, plans to further restore lower Big Beef’s estuary and creek are now underway. Big Beef Creek will offer opportunities for public access, imparting views of the Olympic Mountains and vast forestland for all to enjoy.
Managing Director of Media Relations and Storytelling, Forterra
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 www.forterra.org.