press releases

Quinault Indian Nation named Title Sponsor for Washington Coast Works Sustainable Business Plan Competition

June 21, 2016 (Seattle, Washington) — Washington Coast Works is pleased to announce the Quinault Indian Nation as the Title Sponsor for the 2016 Sustainable Small Business Competition. This year’s business training is underway and will conclude July 22-24 during the Entrepreneurship Summit at the Olympic Natural Resource Center in Forks, Washington. At the Summit, participants will develop their presentation pitch and polish their business plans for a chance to vie for up to $20,000 in startup financing. Winners will be announced in October. 

This year’s participating entrepreneurs include a cultural tourism business, a wood boat kit manufacturer, a bee keeper, a construction business, a chocolatier, a tiny homes builder, a food truck, a dog boarding business, a permaculture farm, a stump grinder, a nature-inspired fitness company, a sustainable vegetable and hog producer, and a manufacturer of art equipment. All are “triple-bottom-line” businesses from coastal communities in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam Counties and designed to generate profits with significant social and environmental benefits.

“The Quinault Indian Nation is a critical partner for us,” said Eric Delvin, Emerald Edge Project Manager at The Nature Conservancy. “Their commitment to conservation of their natural resources and to sustainable economic development is clearly demonstrated by their sponsorship of Washington Coast Works.” 

Other 2016 competition sponsors include Enterprise for Equity and Washington Department of Commerce. 

Washington Coast Works is an initiative of The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with Enterprise for Equity (with support from a USDA Rural Business Development Grant), the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, and the Ta’ala Fund, a native community development financial institution that supports business development in western Washington coast tribal communities. 

The complete calendar of events leading up to the competition is available at Contact at Mike Skinner to learn more about the competition, to volunteer to mentor or judge, or to request information about more sponsorship opportunities.

Sustainable Small Businesses Move Forward with Washington Coast Works

MAY 31 (Seattle, Washington) — Fifteen emerging entrepreneurs from coastal communities in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam Counties are participating in an intensive 8-week business development training provided by Enterprise for Equity as part of the 2016 Washington Coast Works Sustainable Small Business Competition.

Participating businesses include a permaculture farm, a wood boat kit manufacturer, a construction business, a chocolatier, a bee keeper, a tiny homes builder, a dog boarding business, a cultural tourism business, a nature-inspired fitness company, a stump grinder, a sustainable vegetable and hog producer, a manufacturer of art equipment and a food truck — all “triple-bottom-line” businesses designed to generate profits with significant social and environmental benefits.

The training concludes in late July with an Entrepreneurship Summit to be held at the Olympic Natural Resource Center in Forks, Washington. At the Summit, participants will connect to a team of volunteer mentors and advisors who will help them develop their pitch and polish their business plans for presentation to a panel of judges in mid-September, and for a chance to win up to $20,000 in startup financing. Winners will be announced in October.

“It (the competition) gave me a new lease on life — something that I want to do for my community. I want to build our community”, said Jean Ramos, a winner from last year’s competition working to launch a sustainably foraged Labrador tea business. 

Liz Ellis, another winner in last year’s competition, used her award to launch East Aberdeen Community Farm.

“I feel so fortunate to have been part of the three days of very intensive workshops,” Ellis said about last year’s Summit. “For me, the most valuable part of the competition was learning and being inspired by professionals and people in business, coaches and economists, and the fellow applicants from the north and the south.”

Washington Coast Works is an initiative of The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with Enterprise for Equity (with support from a USDA Rural Business Development Grant), the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and the Ta’ala Fund. The program is designed to diversify the economies in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam Counties and contribute to a new vision of sustainable community and economic development on the Washington Coast.

The complete calendar of events leading up to the competition is available at Contact Enterprise for Equity at (360) 704-3375 ext. 3 or Mike Skinner for more information about the competition.

Story Contacts

Robin Ohlgren
WA Coast Works Fundraiser
P | 208-301-1011  
E |

Liz Ellis
East Aberdeen Community Farm
P | 360-780-0349  
E |

Jean Ramos
P | 360-780-0349 

Land Sale Enhances Pacific Crest Trail

Nature Conservancy sells 1,164 acres to U.S. Forest Service


Cle Elum —The Nature Conservancy has sold two sections totaling 1,164 acres of its Central Cascades Forests to the Forest Service, to be managed as part of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

The two sections are within a half mile of the Pacific Crest Trail, are visible from the trail, and have long been part of the vision for protecting the trail and the experience of hiking it. In addition, they encompass the headwaters of Cabin Creek, an important tributary to the Yakima River and habitat for salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

The $1.1 million purchase will be funded from a special Land and Water Conservation Fund program to protect the Pacific Crest Trail.

“We are fortunate to live in a region that is home to some of our nation’s most breathtaking natural treasures,” said Rep. Dave Reichert, who represents Washington’s 8th District in Congress. “Now through the tools of the LWCF and the partnership of the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy, we can rest assured that this area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the experience of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail will be preserved for recreational visitors, the wildlife that calls it home, and for future generations to enjoy.”

“The U.S. Forest Service and its partners have been working for over a decade to help consolidate the checkerboard lands along this section of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail,” said Megan Wargo, Director of Land Protection for the Pacific Crest Trail Association. “We are grateful to The Nature Conservancy for their work to permanently protect these two parcels, ensuring an outstanding recreational opportunity for hikers and equestrians along the PCT for generations to come. “

These sections are within an area designated by the Forest Service as the Snoqualmie Pass Adaptive Management Area, where ecological and economic factors are considered, while managing for high quality forest habitat and habitat connectivity along the Cascade Range.

“This important acquisition connects gaps in National Forest surrounding the Pacific Crest Trail and the headwaters of Cabin Creek,” said Mike Williams, Forest Supervisor of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. "It enhances the recreational access and scenic quality of the trail experience.  Additionally, the acquisition increases our ability to continue restoration efforts in the Yakima Basin."

“This is a win for the land and the people who love it, and assures long term conservation protection and public access for these sections of forest,” said Mike Stevens, the Washington state director of The Nature Conservancy.

These two sections are part of the nearly 48,000 acres the Conservancy purchased from Plum Creek for $48 million in December 2014. Proceeds from the sale will be used to repay some of the financing for the original purchase.

The Conservancy continues to manage its remaining 46,281 acres for healthy forests, clean water, wildlife habitat, and preserving public access, while seeking the best possible conservation outcomes for the land.

This summer, the Conservancy is planning several restoration projects:

·      Planting 66,000 trees in two locations --Douglas-fir and white pine in an area south of Easton, and ponderosa pine in an area of South Cle Elum Ridge that burned in 2014.

·      Thinning trees for forest health and fire resiliency on 380 acres on Cle Elum Ridge above Roslyn.

·      Stream restoration by the Yakama Nation on the North Fork of Taneum Creek.

The Conservancy is also engaged in planning a 100,000-acre cross-ownership restoration project in the Manastash-Taneum area with the U.S. Forest Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources and the Yakama Nation.

For more about these forests, please go to


Robin Stanton
(206) 436-6274




Photography by John Marshall

Once again our state has set a grim record. For the second summer in a row, we are experiencing the largest wildfire in our state’s history. Nearly 1 million acres have burned, hundreds of homes have been lost, and, most devastating, three firefighters lost their lives fighting the blazes that blanket North Central Washington.

Read our Board Chair Byron Bishop’s guest opinion column about actions we can take now to reduce the threat. It appeared in the Seattle Times, Sunday, Sept. 6

The Conservancy has been advocating for and working on strategies to improve our resilience to these megafires.

Here’s a roundup of recent news coverage:

Seattle Times, Nov. 9: Legislature needs to provide the funding to pre-empt wildfires

Seattle Times editorial on the need for Legislative funding for fire solutions

Seattle Times, Nov. 9: Congress needs to address wildfires like any other disaster

Seattle Times editorial in support of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which is a Nature Conservancy priority for Congress. It would bring funding stability to the Forest Service, which has to spend money designated for improvements on fighting fires.

KING-TV, Oct. 15: Forest restored to pre-wildfire condition

KING TV’s new environmental reporter, Alison Morrow, did a feature story on the collaborative restoration project at Oak Creek Wildlife Area, designed to make the forest more resilient in the face of wildfire.

Seattle Times, Oct. 11: Fighting Fire With Fire

Front-page storyon the importance of controlled burning in fighting wildfire, and the barriers to getting more done in Washington:

“We have a set of regulations that are fairly outdated,” said Reese Lolley, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Eastern Washington Forest Program. “More and more, I think we are looking at how do we better live with fire, and how do we use it as a tool.”

Our forest scientists played a critical role in helping the reporters develop the story.

The Olympian, Sept. 27: Dramatic climate shifts require attention to forests, water

Guest opinion column by Washington State Director Mike Stevens and Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark.

Wenatchee World, Aug. 30: Preparing for the next megafire

“The federal and state agencies, local government, and stakeholders through groups like the Nature Conservancy and the North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative, know what to do and are ready to go.”

Tri-City Herald, Aug. 28: Wildfires should have natural disaster status

“Federal Agencies have run short of wildfire suppression money eight times since 2002, according to The Nature Conservancy in Washington State.”

Seattle Times, Aug. 26: Why we have such large wildfires this summer

“Analysis by the Nature Conservancy and U.S. Forest Service found that about 30 percent (2.7 million acres) of Eastern Washington federal, state, tribal and private forestland needs some kind of thinning or treatment to reduce the risk of wildfire. That could include cutting smaller trees or using planned fires to thin the forest.”

Wenatchee World, Aug. 19: We burn, but we have initiative

“‘We need to be proactive in reducing these hazardous fuels,’ said Lloyd McGee of the Nature Conservancy. That requires controlled burns and mechanical treatment.”

Yakima Herald, Aug. 19: New tools needed to improve wildfire prevention

“Collaborative efforts between the state, the Forest Service and the Yakama Nation at thinning fuel and restoring forest health have reduced fire risks, said Mary Sutton Carruthers, coordinator of the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative.”

Wenatchee World, Aug. 18: Leaders search for solutions for wildfire management

“‘We’re fighting a war. To win a war sometime we have to learn how to live with the enemy,’ said Lloyd McGee, Eastern Washington Forests Program manager for The Nature Conservancy.”

Yakima Herald, Aug. 6: Advocating for the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act

“‘We’re going to fight these fires and pay for them one way or another, but this sets up a more rational way of funding that doesn’t impact other programs,’ said Cathy Baker, governmental relations director for The Nature Conservancy in Washington. ‘We’re really pleased with the strong bipartisan support for solving this. They just haven’t gotten there yet.’”


Legislature funds innovative Floodplains by Design program

OLYMPIA, WA – Last week state legislators awarded $35.5 million dollars to the Floodplains by Design grant program in the capital budget paving the way for seven multiple benefit projects across the state to move forward.

Floodplains by Design, administered by the Department of Ecology, supports collaborative floodplain management efforts that combine flood risk reduction, habitat protection, agricultural preservation and recreational access. Projects funded by the program emphasize multiple benefits to maximize effectiveness and ensure tax dollars are well spent.

Legislators approved $33 million for Floodplains by Design in the last biennium, funding projects that supported over 750 jobs in nine locations, restored natural salmon habitats, and protected homes worth over $115 million. The newly approved funding is a testament to the success and growth of the program.

“As flood risk and clean water needs continue to grow while public dollars become more limited, it is critical that we coordinate our investments to maximize outcomes per dollar spent,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Washington State Director Mike Stevens. “The multiple benefits approach of Floodplains by Design is a model for how our state can tackle our greatest challenges.”

“We’re gratified that the Legislature has recognized the value of the proactive approach of the Floodplains by Design program. Our collaborative Puyallup basin project will reconnect the Puyallup River floodplains and will dramatically reduce the risk of flooding to communities from Alderton to Tacoma, while enhancing salmon habitat and protecting farmlands,” said Hans Hunger, Capital Projects Manager with Pierce County. “We appreciate the support for this project, and hope by the demonstrated benefits it brings many more communities will be able to follow its example of working with rivers rather than against them.”

Washington’s floodplains contain billions of dollars in property and infrastructure, and are home to Washington’s richest farmland and signature salmon runs. Studies show that for every $1 spent on flood risk reduction saves $4 in flood damages. As Washington’s communities continue to grow, it is essential to keep floodplain management at the same pace. Flooding is becoming more frequent, severe and costly, which poses a serious threat to Washington’s communities and businesses.

The funding for Floodplains by Design approved today will allow communities across the state to properly manage their floodplains and the benefits they provide

What is Floodplains by Design?

Floodplains by Design is an ambitious public-private partnership working to reduce flood risks and restore habitat, while also supporting other floodplain priorities such as clean water, agriculture and recreation, along Washington’s major river corridors. Because Floodplains by Design projects are built collaboratively from the ground up and serve diverse interests, they enjoy broad support and deliver multiple benefits. For more information visit

Tom Bugert
The Nature Conservancy
(509) 885-6991

Queets Forestland Future Secured


Nature Conservancy Sells 1,720 Acres to DNR

Photograph by Bridget Besaw

WASHINGTON COAST – The Nature Conservancy has sold 1,720 acres of forestlands above the Queets River to the state Department of Natural Resources for management within the Olympic Experimental State Forest as wildlife habitat and working forest.

“This sale assures our conservation goals for this property, and supports the Conservancy’s long-term goals of a sustainable Olympic rainforest that supports wildlife and the local economy,” said David Rolph, Washington’s Director of Forest Conservation and Management for the Conservancy.

The property was part of 2,321 acres the Conservancy purchased from Rayonier in 2014. Conservancy analysis showed that the 600 acres closest to the river is most important for salmon and the health of the river system. The remaining 1,720 acres, while important upland habitat, could be managed in ways that includes sustainable forestry and some logging.

By selling to the Department of Natural Resources, the Conservancy is ensuring good long term management of the land, Rolph said. DNR owns most of the surrounding land, and their management in the Experimental Forest is governed by a 70-year federal conservation plan. It ensures strong protection of wetlands and the development of older stands of trees in the forest rotation. It also allows for continued public access and recreation, and revenue to the state school trust

“Analysis from our scientists confirms that DNR’s management under their federal conservation plan can be a good match in supporting the Conservancy’s habitat restoration goals along the Queets River system,” Rolph said.

“We’re grateful for the partnership with The Nature Conservancy in purchasing this land,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who chairs the Board of Natural Resources, which authorized the purchase. “It will benefit future trust beneficiaries and DNR’s conservation commitments on the Olympic Peninsula.” 

The sales agreement was announced in April, when the Board of Natural Resources authorized the $5.2 million purchase. The sale closed June 12. The Conservancy will use the money generated by the sale, for further forest conservation work.

The Queets is one of four major rivers flowing from the summit of the mountains in Olympic National Park to the Olympic National Marine Sanctuary in the Pacific Ocean. The Conservancy has also purchased and is restoring forest lands on the Clearwater, a tributary to the Queets, and on the Hoh River farther north. The Conservancy is also working with the Quinault Indian Nation for restoration of forests on the Quinault River.

Together with the acquisitions on the Clearwater and Hoh rivers, the Conservancy is now managing 9,410 acres of forest lands in Jefferson County. Conservancy foresters and ecologists have developed long-term plans that include planting trees, restoring important salmon and wildlife habitat, and sustainable long-rotation timber harvest where it makes sense.


SEATTLE — On Tuesday, the Legislature approved $10 million in the capital budget for forest hazard reduction by the state Department of Natural Resources, the largest single increase in funding for forest health ever made by the state, but just half of what was originally requested.

Already this year there have been 324 wildfires across Washington. Last year’s fire season was the biggest on record in the state, with the largest fire — the Carlton Complex — destroying more than 250,000 acres. More than 1 million acres of Washington’s landscape has been consumed by wildfire since 2009.

“As we approach an unprecedented wildfire season due to changing climate and decades of fire suppression, these investments are more critical than ever,” said Mike Stevens, The Nature Conservancy’s Washington state director. “While this represents the single largest legislative appropriation for forest health, there is much more that we need to do to ensure resilient communities and forests in face of increasing amounts of fire.”

“The health of our forests is important to wildfire prevention.  Dead or dying trees are fuel for potentially catastrophic wildfire,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who leads DNR. “We appreciate the Legislature’s investment in this critical effort to improve forest health and the resilience of Washington forests.” 

Fire and forest health experts believe some of the uptick in the number of fires earlier in the season is due to years of persistent drought on the east side of the Cascades, which have weakened forests and made them more susceptible to insects and disease. Ailing forests become flammable “tinder bombs,” ready to ignite from a human-caused spark or lightning strike.

The appropriation includes $9 million for forest hazard reduction work on state and in certain circumstances, private non-industrial timber lands, to reduce the risk of fire, insect and disease to state lands, and $1 million for grants to local communities for the Firewise program, which helps communities take action to increase public safety, and reduce wildfire risk and losses.

DNR and a coalition of advocates developed the original $20 million capital budget request based on an October 2014 report to the state legislature titled “Eastern Washington Forest Health: Hazards, Accomplishments and Restoration Strategy.”

Up-front investments in in forest treatment can save millions in lost asset value for state forests and firefighting costs, protect homes and other property, and generate immediate economic benefits. Recent studies indicate that $1 invested in restoration can yield $1.60 in wildfire suppression cost reductions, and that $1 invested in restoration also generates $6 in overall economic benefit.

The following links offer additional information on the importance of forest health and its relationship to wildfire:

KING 5: Bug infested forests raise fire danger in Washington

KOMO 4: DNR: ‘These forests are tinder bombs’


Tom Bugert
The Nature Conservancy 
(509) 885-6991

Nature Conservancy Buys 3,184 Acres on Hoh River

Hoh River acquisition will help protect Olympic Peninsula

FORKS, WA- The Nature Conservancy has purchased 3,184 acres along the Hoh River near the Washington coast from Rayonier, the two organizations announced today.

The purchase is part of a Nature Conservancy initiative to increase salmon populations, promote sustainable economies and restore temperate rainforest on the Washington coast.

This $7,004,800 acquisition, which closed Monday, March 30, builds on work by the Hoh River Trust, which owns 6,800 acres along the Hoh River, to create a 32-mile conservation corridor extending from Olympic National Park to the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Home to old-growth and temperate rain forest, the Hoh River corridor provides critical habitat for marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, bald eagle, and bull trout. It also supports some of the healthiest native salmon and steelhead runs in the lower 48 states.

“On the Washington Coast, generations have drawn their livelihoods from a wealth of natural resources—abundant salmon and trees that grow faster than anywhere else in the world,” said Mike Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “We’re working with local communities to ensure that these wild salmon rivers and forests will continue to provide recreation and sustainable livelihoods for generations to come.”

“The Hoh River Trust is pleased to welcome The Nature Conservancy to the Hoh Valley,” said Randy Messenbrink of Forks, president of the Hoh River Trust. “Just as we have endeavored to create a restored and open land corridor we are confident The Nature Conservancy holds these shared values and bring a great synergy to the Hoh River, the Forks community and the greater West End.”

“We’re pleased to again partner with The Nature Conservancy to preserve, for future generations, this important regional forest landscape and the fish and wildlife habitat it will protect,” said David Nunes, Rayonier president and CEO.  “In addition to safeguarding salmon habitat, this project connects a large forested landscape from the mountains to the sea.  The responsible stewardship provided by generations of Rayonier foresters since the 1940s makes this partnership possible.  I would like to thank and acknowledge the collaborative work between the Conservancy and our team for their creative and innovative approach to this transaction resulting in an economically viable agreement that will not only keep the land ecologically healthy, but also in a forestland cover.”

This acquisition is made possible with support from the Wyss Foundation, the Norcliffe Foundation, and other private donors and supporters.

“Everyone should have the chance to gaze up at the towering cedars of the Olympic Peninsula and experience the wild steelhead runs of the Hoh River,” said Hansjörg Wyss, who started the Wyss Foundation in 1998. “Thanks to the foresight and leadership of local communities, future generations will be able to hike, hunt, and explore the remarkable rainforests of the Hoh River from its source in Olympic National Park all the way to the Pacific Ocean.”

The Hoh is one of four major river systems flowing from summit to sea in the Olympic rainforest. It is expected to offer Pacific salmon and steelhead some refuge from the impacts of climate change.

The Conservancy has also purchased and is restoring forest lands on the Queets and Clearwater rivers, and is working with the Quinault Indian Nation for restoration of forests on the Quinault River. Together with the earlier acquisitions on the Queets and Clearwater rivers, the Conservancy is now managing 11,130 acres of forest lands in Jefferson County. Conservancy foresters and ecologists have developed long-term plans that include planting trees, restoring important salmon and wildlife habitat, and sustainable long-rotation timber harvest where it makes sense, said Stevens. All these activities generate jobs in coastal communities.

The Conservancy plans to maintain a forest designation and pay property taxes on this land.

Farther south on the Washington Coast, the Conservancy owns and manages nearly 8,000 acres at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve adjoining Willapa National Wildlife Refuge on Willapa Bay. The Conservancy also owns 47,921 acres of forest land in the Central Cascades east of Snoqualmie Pass.

All the Conservancy’s land on the Washington Coast continues to be open to public and tribal use for hunting, fishing, traditional gathering of plants and medicines, boating, birding, hiking, and other coastal outdoor activities.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working in Washington and around the world to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy’s Washington Program on the web at

Rayonier is a leading international land resources company primarily engaged in timberland management and the sale of real estate. Rayonier owns, leases or manages approximately 2.7 million acres of timberlands located in the U.S. and New Zealand. Rayonier is structured as a real estate investment trust. To date, Rayonier has joined with conservation experts to ensure more than 200,000 acres of forestland will remain in conservation for future generations. More information is available at

Contact information

Robin Stanton
Media Relations/ The Nature Conservancy
(206) 436-6274

Mike Bell
Public Affairs Director/ Rayonier
(904) 321-5537


Local farms, shellfish, salmon and clean water will benefit

SEATTLE: Farms, shellfish, salmon and water quality in the Puget Sound Region will get a $9 million boost from a new federal conservation program included in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Awards come through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a new program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“This is a big win for local people who are working together to maintain local sources of food, clean water and our quality of life,” said Mark Clark, Director of the Washington State Conservation Commission, which will manage funding for the Puget Sound project.

Governor Inslee included $4 million in his proposed budget for the non-federal matching funds required by the grant. It’s up to state lawmakers to approve the matching funds as part of the 2015-2017 biennial budget, which is under consideration during the 2015 Legislative session underway now.

Early-action projects in the Puget Sound region are:

  • Farmers in Thomas Creek, a sub basin of the Samish River, will be eligible for voluntary incentives to reduce runoff that impacts shellfish beds. There is also $500K for a farmland protection project along the Samish River (Skagit Conservation District).
  • Farmers in the Snohomish and Skykomish river valleys will receive assistance to manage nutrients and restore riverfront land, as part of Snohomish County’s Sustainable Lands Strategy. (Snohomish Conservation District)
  • Dairy, livestock and crop farmers along Newaukum Creek, in King County’s largest agricultural production district, will be eligible for voluntary incentives to  plant vegetation and install fencing to keep livestock out of the creek. (American Farmland Trust)

“This new program furthers the broad-based work that we need to engage in for Puget Sound recovery,” said Martha Kongsgaard, chair of the Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council. “Thanks to our congressional delegation, particularly Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Suzan DelBene, for their leadership in securing this new funding source for Puget Sound. We also greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with NRCS as they bring these new resources that will strengthen the collaborative restoration and protection efforts around Puget Sound.”

“The Tulalip Tribes, as part of the Sustainable Lands Strategy, was delighted to hear that we have been included in the RCPP funding,” said Terry Williams, Tulalip Tribes Treaty Office. “Building partnerships between farms, fish, and environment has proven to be a game changer here in Snohomish County.   Working together to understand the problems we are all facing has helped us find mutual solutions.”

“We all have a stake in a healthy Puget Sound, clean water, and thriving local farms and other food producers,” said Heidi Eisenhour, Pacific Northwest Regional Director of American Farmland Trust

“This is significant recognition and support for locally-led conservation efforts, and a testimony to the power of the diverse coalition of farm, shellfish, tribal and conservation interests that has come together to support this effort,” said George Boggs, of the Puget Sound Natural Resources Alliance. “Thanks to The Nature Conservancy for its leadership in bringing this coalition together to advocate for this program.”

The Puget Sound Natural Resources Alliance will serve as the advisory committee for this project. The Alliance is a collaboration of agriculture, aquaculture, business, conservation groups and tribes working together to protect the lands and waters of Puget Sound and strengthen the long term viability of our natural resource industries and tribal treaty rights. The Nature Conservancy is a member of the Alliance and will also serve on the steering committee.

“In Washington state, we know how critical it is to protect our natural resources, not only for the environment, but also for our economy,” said Senator Murray, D-WA.  “This funding from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program will support local farmers and build on the great work being done to restore the Puget Sound region, grow the economy, and create jobs.“

“I’m thrilled that this proposal was awarded. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program was made possible through the Farm Bill, and I am pleased to work with such a great coalition of partners to support this proposal,” Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) said. “The project will help improve water quality and habitat for many species, as well as the overall ecosystem, while preserving the beautiful nature of the Pacific Northwest.”

RCPP is a public-private partnership designed to focus conservation efforts on the most critical watersheds and landscapes. Under the program, local partners propose conservation projects specific to their region to improve soil health, water quality and water use efficiency, wildlife habitat and other natural resources on private lands.

Contact information

Robin Stanton
Media Relations - The Nature Conservancy
(206) 436-6274


New study shows $21.6 billion in spending

OLYMPIA: Outdoor recreation generates $21.6 billion a year in spending on trips and equipment in Washington State, a new study prepared for the Legislature shows.

And Washingtonians love to play outside, spending an average of 56 days a year in some form of outdoor recreation.

The study, prepared for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office by Earth Economics, at the direction of the Legislature led by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, is the first comprehensive analysis of the recreation economy in Washington. It offers economic impact data both by geography, by county and by activity.

Highlights include:

  • $21.6 billion is spent every year on outdoor recreation trips and equipment on both public and private land in Washington.
  • Nearly 200,000 jobs are supported by outdoor recreation, comparable to the aerospace and tech industries in Washington.
  • $10.4 billion is spent on sightseeing and nature activities including $7 billion on wildlife watching and photography.
  • $8 billion is spent on activities around water, including fishing, boating, swimming and diving.
  • Out-of-state visitors play an important role—accounting for 12 percent of recreation days, but 27 percent of dollars spent on outdoor recreation. Every dollar spent by an out-of-state traveler in Washington generates $1.36 in economic impacts, resulting in a total of $4.6 billion in new money circulating in the state’s economy.
  • The recreation market is one of the largest markets in the state for moving income from urban to rural areas and building jobs in more rural areas.

“It’s no secret that we live in the most beautiful state in the union and that Washington’s natural splendor is an enormous economic generator,” said Sen. Ranker. “Until now, however, we didn’t fully understand just how powerful an economic force outdoor recreation is. We must not only continue to invest in the protection of our great outdoors, we must support and invest the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend up it.”

“Washington is a great place to run an outdoor business,” said Eric Artz, executive vice president and CFO/COO of REI. “The state’s natural beauty and phenomenal outdoor opportunities create great economic opportunity. The Legislature’s economic impact study validates what we see all around us.   Washingtonians love to spend time outdoors. They love their gear.   They love the spirit of outdoor adventure.  Getting outside is inspiring, and it adds to the state’s economic vitality.”

“We’re grateful to Sen. Ranker for his leadership in ensuring that this vital research was done,” said Mo McBroom, director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy in Washington. “He, like many of us, values nature for its own sake, for beauty for wildlife, but also recognizes the importance of capturing the direct economic benefits to our state from its rich natural resources. With champions like Sen. Ranker we are optimistic that this bedrock of our state’s economy and quality of life will be protected for future generations.”

“We’re very excited to share this report,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which commissioned the study. “I think it confirms what many of us know – that recreation is a big part of what makes Washington a great place to live. Outdoor recreation creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, supports many local businesses and is important to all of us for staying healthy, educating our children and giving us a beautiful place to live. This report puts hard numbers behind the benefits of outdoor recreation and shows that investments in outdoor recreation will bring a substantial return on the dollar.”

To see a copy of the report, visit

This report supports the work of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, which recommended 12 actions to be taken in the near future to increase participation in outdoor recreation and the resulting social and economic benefits.

Read the task force report!


Nature Conservancy, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Plum Creek team up for wildlife, people

SEATTLE: The Nature Conservancy has purchased 1,280 acres of timberland from Plum Creek in the Manastash area west of Ellensburg, and transferred it to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to be managed as part of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area.

This acquisition is the most recent in a decade-long project to weave together a checkerboard of public and private land in the Cascade Mountains. Working with partners including the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Yakama Nation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Conservancy has now brought more than 25,000 acres of private timberlands into public ownership as part of the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, securing public access and protecting this vital resource for our communities.

These particular sections are full of streams and tributaries that flow into the Yakima River. Conserving this forest will protect valuable river habitat for wildlife as well as ensure water downstream for people, fish, and the rich agriculture of the Yakima Valley.

Plum Creek has played an important role in keeping these forests intact while the Conservancy brought together financing to bring them into public ownership.

“Because of our collective efforts, these forests will continue to provide for people and nature for generations to come,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state director for The Nature Conservancy. “Protecting the streams and forests in this region supports the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Plan, assuring water for people, salmon, wildlife and farms into the future.”

“Plum Creek recognizes the public benefits of this project and is pleased to participate in the partnership that achieved this important conservation outcome,” said Jerry Sorensen, senior director of land management for Plum Creek.

“Together, we’re ensuring that the public will continue to have access to this land for fishing, hunting, hiking and camping,” said Mike Livingston, Southcentral Region director for WDFW. “This diverse habitat supports threatened and endangered species such as bull trout, steelhead, spotted owls and wolves, as well as big-game such as mule deer and elk.”

The Washington Department of Ecology provided funding for this project through its Office of Columbia River.

Plum Creek: Managing working forests for stewardship, rural prosperity, and shareholder value. Plum Creek is among the largest and most geographically diverse private landowners in the United States with timberlands in 19 states, and wood products mills in the Northwest.  We manage our lands using sustainable practices to benefit Plum Creek’s many stakeholders.  Our talented employees work together to serve as stewards of the environment, make wood products for everyday use, and build strong communities to create shareholder value. For more information, please visit

Contact information

Robin Stanton
The Nature Conservancy
(206) 436-6274

Kathy Budinick
Plum Creek
(206) 467-3620

Mike Livingston
Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
(509) 457-9325


Private donations transform work to restore natural systems in Washington and around the world

SEATTLE: The Nature Conservancy’s three-year Forces of Nature campaign has raised $33.3 million in private dollars for conservation in Washington and internationally. The campaign, the largest in the chapter’s history and one of the largest campaigns for conservation ever in Washington, was focused on conserving and restoring natural systems while enhancing the well-being of people.

“Our economy and quality of life are intertwined with our state’s clean water, abundant natural resources and astounding beauty,” said Mike Stevens, the Conservancy’s Washington director. “Through their generosity to this campaign, the people of Washington have shown they understand and value what we have and are willing to work to steward it.”

“We are grateful to our donors who have demonstrated their passion and commitment to conservation even during difficult economic times,” said Campaign Chair Elaine French, a volunteer and member of the state chapter’s board of trustees.

In all, the Conservancy raised nearly $18 million for acquisitions, $10 million for on-the-ground work, and more than $6 million for international programs.

Funds raised through the Forces of Nature Campaign are already bringing results.

  • Puget Sound: Partnership-driven, high-impact projects are blending flood protection, salmon habitat, stormwater reduction and agricultural preservation across more than 1,000 acres of floodplains along eight major rivers.
  • East Cascade Forests: Critical timberlands have been brought into public ownership and we are partnering to restore forests to reduce the risks of catastrophic megafires, while promoting ways to ensure the economic viability of forest-dependent communities.
  • Olympic Rainforest: We are working hand in hand with coastal communities to conserve and restore forests along our most important coast salmon rivers.
  • Marine Waters: A new program focuses on conserving Washington’s 28,000 square miles of  marine waters and fisheries in Puget Sound and off the coast.
  • Emerald Edge: A new international program conserves habitat, restores forests and fisheries and builds sustainable economies across 70 million acres in the world’s largest temperate rainforest, stretching from the Washington coast through British Columbia and into Southeast Alaska.
  • International: Support from Washington allows Conservancy programs around the world to benefit nature and people, for example protecting elephant habitat in Africa through indigenous communities.

Forty-five donors gave gifts of $100,000 or more. The campaign was also supported by corporations and private foundations, including Boeing, Harriet Bullit’s Icicle Fund, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

“What makes this campaign so special is our work with people—farmers, fishermen, loggers, business owners, tribal communities—to develop projects that will have the biggest impact on people’s lives and on our future,” said Mary Ruckelshaus, chair of the chapter’s board of trustees. “Using innovative, science-based solutions, we are making life better for people and communities while protecting the natural resources on which we all depend.”

Contact information

Robin Stanton
The Nature Conservancy
(206) 436-6274


Land transactions are critical steps in future for Washington forests

SEATTLE: Washington’s forests are iconic, revered and evolving. While our forests have always offered beauty, habitat and raw materials, how we manage and benefit from them has changed over time. The Nature Conservancy is in the center of innovative, science-based approaches that allow us to enjoy and enhance our forests’ aesthetic, environmental and economic value across the state.

Two recent land transactions involving two very different forests are important milestones in realizing this vision.

On the Washington coast, the Conservancy has purchased 2,300 acres of timberlands from Rayonier along the Queets River, adjacent to the Olympic National Park.

In the East Cascades, the Conservancy has purchased 3,511 acres of timberland from Plum Creek in the Manastash area west of Ellensburg, and transferred it to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to be managed as part of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area.

“These transactions are critical pieces in our efforts to solve crucial issues in our state’s forests,” said Michael S. Stevens, Washington state director for The Nature Conservancy. “Using science and on-the-ground experience, we are working with a wide variety of partners to create sustainable management, assure resiliency and ensure the communities that depend on these lands are thriving.”

The Conservancy has demonstrated success on the Washington coast, working with partners including the Quinault Indian Nation and the Hoh River Trust to enhance habitat on key salmon rivers including the Clearwater and Quinault. The acquisition of new land comes as part of a partnership with Rayonier, and opens the door to a future full of salmon and timber.

“Rayonier has been part of the Washington community since 1926 when we first began operations near Mount Rainier,” said Lynn Wilson, Senior Vice President of Forest Resources at Rayonier. “We’ve been stewards of this land since the 1940s and are pleased that the Nature Conservancy and Rayonier’s conservation program team, led by its manager Callie DeHaven, have developed a partnership that will ensure that this land will remain an integral part of the forest landscape of the region in perpetuity.”

The Queets acquisition was made possible through generous private donors, including a $500,000 challenge grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation that inspired an additional $1 million in donations.

The challenges in Eastern Washington are quite different and there The Nature Conservancy has already done important work in restoration, fire prevention and preservation of clean water. This latest acquisition is the most recent in a decade-long project to weave together a checkerboard of public and private land in the east Cascades. Plum Creek has played an important role in keeping these important conservation lands intact while the Conservancy assembled financing so they can be brought into public ownership. Working with partners, including the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Conservancy has brought nearly 25,000 acres of private timberlands into public ownership managed under the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, securing public access and protecting this vital resource for our communities.

“Plum Creek recognizes the public benefits of this project and is pleased to participate in the partnership that achieved this important outcome,” said Jerry Sorenson, senior director of land management for Plum Creek.

“This project was a high priority for the state because it provides critical habitat both for protected species and game animals,” said Mike Livingston, Southcentral Region director for WDFW. “This diverse habitat supports threatened and endangered species such as spotted owls, bull trout and steelhead, as well as big-game such as mule deer and elk.”

The Manastash transfer was kick-started by private donors and ultimately funded by a grant through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program as well as by federal funding to protect habitat for endangered species.

These projects on the Queets River and at Manastash are much more than just acquisitions. They represent an evolved and innovative approach to our state’s forests that assures clean water for agriculture, fish and people, creates local jobs, and nurtures communities for generations to come.

Contact information

Robin Stanton
The Nature Conservancy
(206) 436-6274

Russell Schweiss
(904) 357-9158

Kathy Budinick
Plum Creek
(206) 467-3620

Mike Livingston
Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
(509) 457-9325