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Cascade Land Conservancy preserves part of Middle Fork

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - They can't read the good news, but a certain group of fish and other wildlife will be mighty pleased when they figure out the last piece of unprotected riverfront land in the upper Middle Fork Valley has been purchased by the Cascade Land Conservancy.

That's right. Carefree swimming and frolicking can commence now that the 120-acre plot along the Middle Fork Valley of the Snoqualmie River is secured from development forever and will eventually be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service for public ownership.

Known as the Moore Oxbow property, the land includes a one-mile stretch of riverfront and supports an intricate network of wetlands and gravel bars that provide critical habitat for a variety of fish and other creatures. The gravel bars also offer outdoor enthusiasts opportunities for fishing, wading and walk-in camping.

"For over nine years CLC has protected the beautiful landscapes in the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie Valley to promote low-impact recreation and wildlife habitat," said Chip Nevins, King County Conservation Director for CLC. "This land was a critical piece to the puzzle."

The CLC, a nonprofit organization that preserves natural lands in King, Kittitas, Pierce and Snohomish counties, announced the acquisition Jan. 10 after purchasing the land from the Moore family. The U.S. Forest Service was interested at the time but lacked the funds necessary to purchase the 120 acres. Donations from the late Patsy Collins, the Mountaineers Foundation, the Osberg Family Trust and two anonymous donors made it possible for CLC to acquire the property near the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, a destination for many thousands of hikers each year.

The purchase is part of an ongoing effort by CLC to preserve lands in the Middle Fork Valley. The 120 acres now join the other 1,200 acres that CLC holds there.

"Protecting the Moore property caps off a long effort to protect the upper Middle Fork Valley," said Mark Boyar, CLC community trustee and president of the Middle Fork Outdoor Recreation Coalition. "This area is so close to the Seattle Metropolitan area and a lot of crowded trails, so it's a huge deal for both the animals and the hikers."

The move by CLC was a win for local critters and nature enthusiasts everywhere as the land, just 30 miles northeast of North Bend, was at high risk for development given its easy access from Middle Fork Road.

"This acquisition not only protects the Moore property from development forever, but it also is a huge win for wildlife habitat and for improving the quality of life in this area," said Gene Duvernoy, president of CLC.

CLC will continue to target additional wildlands in the Middle Fork basin to protect key in-holdings for passive recreational use.

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