Thanks to last week’s purchase of a conservation easement by Tacoma Power, approximately 1,850 acres of working timberland and valuable wildlife habitat in the area known as Peterman Hill above Lewis County’s Riffe Lake will be conserved from development in perpetuity. The conservation easement was negotiated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and purchased from Pope Resources, a timberland owner with a long history in Washington State.
Forterra (formerly Cascade Land Conservancy) proposed the transaction to Pope Resources, neighboring landowner Tacoma Power and WDFW several years ago and helped negotiate the successful deal. The easement was purchased using mitigation funding required in the federal license for the Cowlitz River Hydroelectric Project.
“We believe that this use of the mitigation funds will significantly benefit wildlife,” said Tacoma Power’s wildlife and recreation co-ordinator Cindy Swanberg. “The conservation easement purchase will ensure that the lands bordering Tacoma Power’s Cowlitz Wildlife Area are not negatively impacted by development.”
With the easement in place, the 1,850-acre property can continue operating as active timberland, but cannot be used for commercial or residential development. This transaction involves Pope Resources’ timberland directly adjacent to Tacoma Power’s 6,840 acre Peterman Ridge wildlife unit managed by WDFW. This conservation easement is especially important because the newly protected lands lie between Riffe Lake and the existing wildlife area, leveraging its conservation benefits to the adjacent Tacoma Power property.
“The conservation of this property will keep a working forest working, keep wildlife habitat vibrant and keep a great recreational property accessible to everyone. This acquisition shows the power of partnerships with Pope Resources, Tacoma Power, WDFW, and Forterra,” said Gene Duvernoy,Forterra president.
“Pope Resources is delighted to work with Forterra, Tacoma Power, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to preserve working forests on lands with other potential uses,” said David Nunes, Pope president and CEO. “We have been managing timberland in Washington for over 150 years and are committed to stewardship excellence. We will continue to work on these significant conservation projects with our valued partners, as evidenced by the 20,000 acres we have committed to conservation in the last 15 years.”
The 23.5-mile long Riffe Lake is the second largest freshwater lake in western Washington. The forests around the lake are home to a wide variety of wildlife species including elk, deer, bald eagle,pileated woodpecker, and numerous others.