With a goal of preserving salmon habitat, The Nature Conservancy Rayonier has purchased 3,088 acres of Rayonier forest lands that run along the Clearwater River south of Forks in western Jefferson County.
The land sale announcement was made on Wednesday, Feb. 23.
The land block owned by the timber company runs along the Clearwater River for about 11 miles, and is about a mile wide. The Nature Conservancy announced the sale price was $6.98 million.
A statement from the Conservancy states a goal of buying the land to bring “salmon back to historical levels of abundance.”
The Quinault Tribe released a statement backing the sale with hopes of increasing salmon in the river.
“In this part of the world, salmon and forests and people are interdependent,” said Karen Anderson, the Conservancy’s Washington state director said in a prepared statement. “We can help secure a healthy future for people and wildlife by managing this stretch of forest for salmon habitat.”
Lee M. Thomas, chairman and CEO of Georgia-based Rayonier said of the land sale: “Rayonier has been part of the Washington community since 1926 when we first began operations near Mount Rainier. We’ve responsibly managed this forest since the 1940s, so we’re especially pleased to be part of this partnership to conserve lands in this very special part of the world.”
Rayonier’s base on the West End is located outside of Forks in the Quillauyte Prairie area.
“These forests have sustained people for generations. Over the next century we will manage this forest so that it more resembles its former magnificence – and provides the habitats needed by wildlife.” Anderson said. “This is active conservation management that will provide jobs for generations and ensure that these lands remain accessible to local communities and visitors.”
“The Clearwater is nationally recognized as a salmon stronghold by the North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership and Quinault Indian Nation,” said Devona Ensmenger, Washington program manager for the Wild Salmon Center. “However, its spring/summer Chinook salmon population is in serious decline and reestablishing the rainforest ecosystem is critical to bringing back healthy populations.”