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1.5 miles of Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail permanently protected
The Trust for Public Land announced that 808 acres of private lands along the Pacific Crest Trail in Kittitas County, Washington have been protected and added to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Wenatchee national forests.
The two properties, owned by Plum Creek Timber Company, include 1.5 miles of trail and provide striking views of the Cascade Range. Protecting the land consolidates "checkerboard lands," a checkerboard pattern of Forest Service ownership and land that was originally granted to the Northern Pacific Railroad. Consolidating these lands will enhance recreational access and protect scenic views and habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered species.
The Trust for Public Land worked with Plum Creek to secure the lands and funding for its protection.
"The Pacific Crest Trail is a very popular hiking destination and a place many go to view wildlife and enjoy the outdoors," said Mike Deller, The Trust for Public Land's Washington State Director. "We have been working for over a decade to help consolidate these checkerboard lands to protect the trail and provide better access for the public and will continue to do so."
The $1.126 million to purchase the two properties came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal government's main source of money for protecting land. The source of the money is royalties paid by energy companies for offshore oil and gas drilling.
U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Representative Dave Reichert support LWCF and the effort to protect land along the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. Acquiring these lands has been a priority for both the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the U.S. Forest Service.
This part of the trail is just north of the Norse Peak Wilderness Area.
"This means a lot to those of us who want to provide the natural experience in the Pacific Northwest," said Mike Dawson, trail operations director for the Pacific Crest Trail Association. He said volunteer groups such as Backcountry Horsemen and North 350 Blades do hard manual labor to keep the trail open to the public. "This makes their work so much more valuable," he said.
The I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition and Forterra also supported the protection of these two properties.
The Trust for Public Land is a national land conservation organization which preserves land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways and wilderness areas. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres in 47 states. www.tpl.org