Since 1951, The Nature Conservancy has set out to “conserve the lands

Since 1951, The Nature Conservancy has set out to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.” Yesterday, the group announced that it will be making history with its next land acquisition—a 47,921 acre checkered swath of forestland in the Central Cascades, spanning from Snoqualmie Pass to Cle Elum. It’s the largest conservation acquisition in Washington State thus far for the organization.

“We’re talking about 75 square miles—2.2 times the size of Manhattan. Two times the size of all the parks in King County combined. It’s the size of Cleveland. This is a project you can see from space,” Melissa Garvey, the Nature Conservancy’s deputy state director said in order to provide some scale reference.

The Nature Conservancy bought the $134 million acquisition from Plum Creek, a timber company that sold a 117,000 acre parcel in Montana’s Blackfoot River Valley as part of the two-state package deal. The purchase nearly doubles the land the Nature Conservancy owns in Washington. The area contains 1000 species of of plants and wildlife, including salmon, spotted owl, wolves and some 16,000 elk. As part of the conservation effort, the organization will be thinning some of the forestland to stave off wildfire threat, in addition to rehabilitating land worn down by logging.

“This project will secure some of the most important wildlife habitat on the continent,” said Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “These lands serve as critical linkages between vast wilderness areas and will protect sources of clean water.”

But the organization is making it clear that this purchase is also for humans, “to ensure that people can continue to enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking and cross country skiing,” said Mike Stevens, the Conservancy’s Washington state director.