Forterra completes sale of Dead Man’s Pond in Puyallup


TACOMA – Forterra has completed the sale of 5 acres of urban wildlife habitat known as Dead Man’s Pond to the City of Puyallup. The pond provides habitat to the state’s endangered western pond turtle. The land is adjacent to an additional 8.7 acres of forested wetlands that Forterra and the City of Puyallup partnered to conserve in 2012.

The announcement caps a creative partnership between Forterra and the City of Puyallup that began in 2013, when the City approached Forterra requesting assistance to protect the property. With few funding options available to it at the time—and realizing urban wildlife habitat like this is increasingly threatened by development—the City requested that Forterra purchase the property and maintain it for up to three years.

Forterra acquired the property from a private landowner in 2014 for $336,000, and completed the sale to the City on Dec. 9, 2016 for the same amount.

“The City of Puyallup has been fortunate to purchase two large parcels at Dead Man’s Pond over the past few years, preserving rare and valuable habitat in an otherwise urban environment,” said Mark Palmer, city engineer with the City of Puyallup. “These properties will eventually provide a living laboratory where citizens can see and learn more about the interactions between hydrology, land use decisions and wildlife.”

Dead Man’s Pond is connected to over 200 acres of protected parks and open space in the Clarks Creek corridor, including more than 50 acres already owned by the City. It is home to black-tailed deer, blue heron, and bald eagles. The pond is the headwaters of Clarks Creek, a small, spring-fed, salmon-bearing tributary to the Puyallup River.

But the pond also has major significance as habitat for the endangered western pond turtle. If Forterra, the City and other partners are able to protect the entire pond, it may be possible to reintroduce the turtles here, according to Jordan Rash, Forterra’s Conservation Director.

“This is a huge step forward in protecting Dead Man’s Pond for the City of Puyallup, building on years of work to protect habitat and improve water quality in the Clarks Creek watershed,” Rash said. “The City has been an exceptional partner to Forterra, and we look forward to continuing to build on this work in the years ahead.”

Forterra purchased the property with the help of The Russell Family Foundation, which provided a financial guarantee that Forterra used to secure a line of credit.

“Restoring a watershed is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece matters. Dead Man’s Pond provides wildlife habitat in an urban setting that can’t be replaced. We are proud to help protect it,” said Richard Woo, CEO, The Russell Family Foundation.

The transaction also increases public access to natural areas. The property and surrounding neighborhood will be connected to DeCoursey Park and eventually downtown Puyallup via the proposed 5-Mile Loop Trail now under development by the City.

Rash, Forterra’s Conservation Director, called the project a great example of public-private partnerships that can be replicated in other places. “It’s important to secure keystone properties for parks, trails, affordable housing or other vital needs that support our community’s quality of life.”

Forterra will continue to help steward Dead Man’s Pond through its Green Puyallup Partnership.

Dead Man’s Pond, courtesy of: Carrie Hawthorne/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

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