Partnerships make all this work possible. First and foremost, we offer our deep gratitude to the USDA and the U.S. Forest Service for investing in this project. Protection of Cle Elum Ridge will benefit upper Kittitas County for generations to come by protecting healthy forests that serve as a wildfire buffer for nearby communities, protecting the watershed that people and agriculture depend on and offering numerous recreational opportunities.

We thank the community members who have leaned into this work over the past five years through the Checkerboard Partnership Planning Committee. This opportunity was possible because of their dedication and deep collaboration in developing a shared, long-term vision for permanent protection. Their many hours of meetings, letter-writing and strategizing were instrumental to securing this funding.

We are also deeply grateful for the steadfast support and leadership of state and federal elected officials who have supported the project and the funding necessary to permanently protect the Ridge, including Congresswoman Kim Schrier, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

While this grant is an exciting benchmark, there is still work to be done. TNC is collaborating with local partners to develop a transition plan for the lands. DNR is expected to acquire the land in the next year or two.

For more coverage and information about this exciting announcement, follow these links:

Seattle Times: WA to acquire 9,700-acre forest near Cle Elum thanks to federal grant

USDA Press Release: Biden-Harris Administration Partners with States to Conserve 168,000 Acres of Private Forestlands as part of Investing in America agenda | USDA

DNR Press Release: Federal Funding Secured to Protect 9,700 Acres Adjacent to Teanaway Community Forest

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