Snoqualmie Tree Farm deal gets new hope from proposed bill

SNOQUALMIE - Evergreen Forest Trust's effort to buy the Snoqualmie Tree Farm received a needed break last week when a U.S. House of Representatives' committee approved a bill that would pave the way for the purchase. Although the announcement comes as good news to the trust, it may not have come soon enough.

Weyerhaeuser Co., the land's owner, said it continues to speak to other potential buyers and if a suitable offer is presented before the trust gets the bill approved, it will sell.

On Thursday, Feb. 27, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill that would enable Evergreen Forest Trust, a nonprofit organization, to purchase about 100,000 acres of land from Weyerhaeuser. The $185-million deal would find the trust issuing Community Forestry Bonds to fund the purchase while continuing to harvest timber from the land to pay off the debt.

"This represents a major milestone in our efforts to protect the Snoqualmie Tree Farm," said Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, one of the sponsor's of the legislation. "My goal is to ensure that this beautiful land is preserved for future generations to enjoy. And most importantly, this can be accomplished in a manner that does not harm our local economy."

Under the agreement a conservation easement would prevent any development from occurring on the tree farm land, which includes the North Fork of the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers and extends south near North Bend to north of the King-Snohomish County line. Carnation lies close to its west side, while the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest border it to the east. Ten thousand acres along environmentally sensitive areas such as rivers, creeks and lakes will be permanently set aside from logging.

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