A historic land deal that will safeguard clean water, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. Located between Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum on both sides of I-90, this land is important for people and wildlife alike. The acquisition for conservation marks a major milestone in the ongoing effort to conserve Washingtonโ€™s natural heritage.

Quick facts:

  • 47,921 acres of forestland, much of it on both sides of I-90 between Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum

  • Irreplaceable habitat for wildlife, including elk and bear, as well as rare and threatened species such as wolverine, wolves and spotted owl

  • Rivers and streams that are critical for salmon and steelhead, and agriculture in the Yakima Valley

  • Community dialog will create shared vision for these lands.

From towering ponderosas to intricate lichen, the land being acquired by The Nature Conservancy is rich, productive and nothing short of gorgeous. Nothing beats seeing it in person, but this slideshow will give you a flavor.

The 47,921 acres of land we are acquiring in the Central Cascades is irreplaceable habitat for wildlife, including elk and bear, as well as rare and threatened species such as wolverine and spotted owl. Touching three lakes and adjacent to the Teanaway Community Forest, this project connects some of the most ecologically diverse forests in the world.

Fast facts:

  • 1000 species of plants and wildlife, including iconic Pacific salmon, towering Ponderosas pines, elk and wolverine,

  • 200 species of birds, including many neo-tropical migrant species which use these forests as they migrate between the southern and northern hemispheres

  • 16,000 Elk in Kittitas County

The headwaters of the Yakima River are critical for salmon and steelhead. The land is a vital part of the watershed that feeds the Yakima River Valley and its productive farmlands.

Fast facts:

  • 390 miles of rivers and streams

  • $1.8 billion dollar agricultural industry in Yakima Valley

  • Second most productive agricultural region in U.S., producing apples, grapes, hops, dairy, tree fruits, potatoes

  • 75% of the U.S. beer hops

  • 50 wineries

From towering ponderosas to intricate lichen, the land being acquired by The Nature Conservancy is rich, productive and nothing short of gorgeous.
— James Schroeder, Eastern Washington Forests Director

With this acquisition, we begin a community dialog to create a lasting vision for these lands. As we look ahead, here are some questions and answers about the project:

Where is the land? How do I get to it?

The property sits on both sides of I-90 between Snoqualmie Pass and Ellensburg. It touches three lakes: Keechelus, Kachess and Cle Elum. It is adjacent to the Teanaway community forest. There is also land in the Little Naches headwaters, accessible by highway 410.

What does The Nature Conservancy plan to do with this land?

Our primary goal in acquiring this land is conservation. We will embark on restoration including commercial and non-commercial forest harvest for long term forest health. We anticipate robust community dialog about the best ways to manage this land for conservation, and restoration, to benefit people and to benefit nature. As we develop the shared vision through our conversation with stakeholders, we will look for opportunities to move some of this land into public ownership where feasible, for long-term conservation.

Will these areas remain open to the public?

Our intention is to keep the land as open to the public as possible consistent with the conservation purposes for which we purchased this land. We will work to balance recreation and public safety with our primary goal of conservation. As we work to refine recreational access, weโ€™ll continue to provide the same access that is currently allowed.

Will individuals be able to have a say in what happens to the land?

We look forward to engaging with everyone who has an interest in this land, to develop a shared vision for conserving these lands for people and for nature.

Can people help or support this project in any way?

Absolutely! We will be reaching out to the local community to engage in a dialog about the future of these lands, and we will identify specific opportunities to support the project. We will also have volunteer stewardship projects on the land after we take ownership. Please check our website for more information. Restoration is expensive so we will definitely need support to restore these forests to health