Realizing a dream

The Nisqually Land Trust and its conservation partners have done an outstanding job protecting fish and wildlife habitat just outside the Mount Rainier National Park.

Over the past seven years, land trust officials, led by executive director Joe Kane have, secured 2,500 acres of forestland that links the Gifford Pinchot National Forest just outside the park to the Elbe Hills State Forest.

The several land purchases, aided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants and totalling $10.5 million, ensure that the Ashford-area entrance to the Pacific Northwest’s premier national park will be off-limits to logging and development forever.

It’s a project that’s good for the fish, wildlife, water quality and tourism industries in the Ashford area.

Completion of the project would not be possible without the cooperation of the Hancock Timber Resource Group, which sold more than 1,800 acres of forestland to the land trust. In doing so, the Hancock group wisely recognized that this property had conservation value that outweighed its worth managed for timber production.

Other partners in the far-sighted project include the state Department of Natural Resources, which will manage the wildlife corridor through a conservation easement with the land trust, the Nisqually Tribe and Ashford area community members.

Put it all together and you have the Mount Rainier Gateway Initiative, an example that big conservation dreams do come true with vision, dedication and cooperation.