A person sits and looks out at Mt. Index in Index, Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

A person sits and looks out at Mt. Index in Index, Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Near Mt. Index, Forterra secures key piece in conservation puzzle

The nonprofit has been acquiring land in the region for decades. Now the project is complete, with funding from the county.

INDEX — Along the ridgeline of Mount Index, 102 acres of forestland with pockets of old growth groves sat unprotected — until last month.

The nonprofit Forterra recently acquired the land, filled with fir trees and hanging moss, and promised to preserve the area for wildlife.

This has been the goal for Forterra staff who have spent the past two years gathering money for this specific portion that rises to about 2,800 feet and sits close to the popular Lake Serene Trail. It was part of the nonprofit’s larger goal: to gradually acquire land near Mount Index and Lake Serene.

“This was the outstanding piece,” said Collette MacLean, lands program manager for Forterra.

With $220,000 from the Snohomish County Conservation Futures program, Forterra now manages hundreds of acres in the area.

Over 45,000 people hike the Lake Serene Trail every year, which crosses over land previously owned by lumber company Weyerhaeuser.

Forterra began acquiring land in the area after Weyerhaeuser announced plans to harvest mature timber on the company’s property. The process would have closed the Lake Serene Trail to hikers for at least nine months, according to Forterra’s website.

MacLean compared Forterra’s supervision of the property to the U.S. Forest Service’s management of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Forterra, just like the Forest Service, preserves land for its ecological and recreational benefits, saving forests from timber production.

“This campaign addition protects a stretch of forest land that people on the climbing walls would see, folks driving along Highway 2 would see,” Forterra CEO Michelle Connor said.

Separated by U.S. 2, the Lake Serene site is within view of some of the most popular climbing locations in Index — and the state — including the Upper and Lower Town walls.

Forterra’s recent acquisition is relatively small, Connor said, but securing the property prevents private owners from developing it.

Collette MacLean, Lands Program Manager for Forterra, poses for a photo in Index, Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Collette MacLean, Lands Program Manager for Forterra, poses for a photo in Index, Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Connor said Forterra will continue to prioritize land conservation efforts throughout the U.S. 2 corridor.

“Anytime you can keep tracts of land in similar types of management, for similar types of public benefit,” she said, “it becomes very important.”

The recent acquisition comes after headlines about how the Snoqualmie Tribe accused Forterra last year of misleading the tribe and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As The Seattle Times reported, the USDA gave Forterra $20 million last year for the nonprofit’s Forest to Home project, aiming to improve climate resiliency in the agricultural and timber sectors. The town of Darrington and Snohomish County were all listed as partners on the project, in addition to the Snoqualmie Tribe.

But Forterra never consulted with the tribe on the volume of timber products it proposed to manufacture from the tribe’s ancestral forests. The tribe withdrew its support from the project, and Forterra’s board apologized to the tribe.

Ta’Leah Van Sistine: 425-339-3460; taleah.vansistine@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @TaLeahRoseV.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Patrick Kunz speaks during his sentencing on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington.(Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett gymnastics coach who spied on students sentenced to 6 months

Patrick Kunz, 47, pleaded guilty to charges of voyuerism and possession of child pornography last month.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
Everett transgender mechanic alleges Boeing treated her ‘like a zoo animal’

For years, Boeing allowed toxicity “to fester and grow” at its Everett factory, according to Rachel Rasmussen, an employee from 1989 to 2024.

Everett police officers survey the scene of a shooting along East Casino Road on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Washington’s 5th police academy could be in Snohomish County

A new academy in Northwest Washington would help clear a lengthy wait list for new police hires to get training.

Monroe High School (Monroe School District)
Monroe High School teacher accused of sexual misconduct, put on leave

Few details were not available Thursday afternoon. Police were seeking information from the public.

After 10 months, police make arrest in fatal Everett shooting

Police believe Malik “Capone” Fulson killed Joseph Haderlie, 27, in April 2023 outside an apartment complex on Casino Road.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

Ryan Rafter appears in court for sentencing Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Man sentenced to life in prison for murder of Everett father

In April 2022, Ryan Rafter, 42, shot Christopher Buck, 29, to death after breaking in to his home to steal drugs.

Driver strikes, kills Marysville man who was crossing I-5 in Seattle

The man’s car had broken down near Mercer Street. Troopers reported that he was struck when he tried to cross the freeway.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Police: Darrington woman stabbed, buried 5-year-old daughter

The woman reportedly told investigators she was hearing voices before she killed her young daughter on Valentine’s Day.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.