Stewart Mountain “First 550” Acquired

Whatcom Land Trust secures 550 acres of forestland on Stewart Mountain

Whatcom Land Trust announced the purchase of 550 acres of forestland and critical habitat on the eastern side of Stewart Mountain near Acme, Washington on November 4. This particular section of forestland is considered to be one of the most ecologically and geologically sensitive properties on the mountain- with a steep grade directly along the South Fork Nooksack River, four salmon- bearing streams, and a stand of 125-year-old Douglas fir and western red cedar. 

Stewart Mountain has been owned by six different timber companies over the last 30 years. Traditional logging practices and continual landowner turnover have contributed to declining watershed health in the South Fork Nooksack River, including high levels of sediment and low river flow in the late summer. Research shows that restoring upland forests and protecting riparian forests can have a measurable impact on both water quality and quantity throughout the watershed. A forthcoming forest management plan for the 550-acre property will address watershed health and prioritize other community needs and values. 

“Whatcom Land Trust has been honored to be part of a passionate and dedicated team working to bring the Stewart Mountain Community Forest to life. The Nooksack Indian Tribe has taken a lead on conducting research into understanding how forest management impacts our watersheds and how it can make our ecosystems more resilient to a changing climate. This important acquisition is a major step towards restoring natural system functions on Stewart Mountain,” said Alex Jeffers, Whatcom Land Trust Conservation Director.  

Funding for the purchase was made possible by $1.5 million in funding from the Conservation Futures Fund via the County Executive’s office, $300,000 from Evergreen Land Trust via a grant they received from the Whatcom Community Foundation, and an additional $550,000 committed by Whatcom Land Trust from generous donations. 

This is the first acquisition in the larger envisioned Stewart Mountain Community Forest (SMCF) project. The SMCF is a proposal for a 5,500-acre forest managed for multiple ecological and community goals. The SMCF core planning team, including Whatcom Land Trust, Whatcom County, Nooksack Indian Tribe, and Evergreen Land Trust, has been conducting ongoing outreach and engagement in the South Fork Valley to assess community values and needs. This project aims to restore watershed health in the South Fork Nooksack Valley, strengthen the local forest economy, work with tribal members on cultural access, and develop recreational and educational opportunities.

Whatcom Land Trust’s mission is to preserve and protect wildlife habitat, scenic, agricultural and open space lands in Whatcom County for future generations by securing interests in land and promoting land stewardship.
Give a gift in support of long-term stewardship of this first 550 acres of Stewart Mountain here.

Interested in the Stewart Mountain Community Forest? Watch this video to hear from Whatcom Land Trust staff and partners about the vision for this exciting project. 

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