FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WHATCOM LAND TRUST ACHIEVES FUNDING GOAL FOR SKOOKUM II ACQUISITION WITH $1.25M FROM COUNTY
Bellingham, WA. (June 1st, 2021) – The Whatcom County Council approved $1.25 million in Conservation Futures funding for the Whatcom Land Trust’s Skookum II acquisition. With this contribution from the County the Land Trust has met its fundraising goal of $3.5 million to purchase 1,000 acres from Weyerhaeuser in the Skookum Creek watershed, building upon a 1,400 acre purchase in the watershed in 2019. The project costs include acquisition of the land and funding for future stewardship needs. When the Skookum II purchase is completed, the total project cost of Skookum I and II will be $5.5 million. As part of the $1.25 million contribution, the County will acquire a public conservation easement that will allow future access to the property.
“I just want to thank the Land Trust, this is a really cool potential acquisition, they do great work, I’m really excited this is going forward.” -Todd Donovan, Whatcom County Councilmember
The Conservation Futures Fund is a County tax levy designated to protect open space, water quality, agricultural land, and recreation. Its uses are to preserve, restore, and conserve land in Whatcom County for public use and enjoyment. These values align perfectly with the Land Trust’s acquisition of Skookum II. This investment will help the Land Trust permanently protect another 1,000 acres of maturing riparian forest and uplands and over 2 miles of upper Skookum Creek, improving biodiversity, watershed health, climate resilience, landscape connectivity, and recreation in the Upper South Fork Nooksack River Basin.
“With this investment by the Council and the Executive, we’re able to permanently protect the largest contiguous wildlife corridor on private land in Whatcom County. This is a momentous step in our efforts to fight climate change with local solutions.” –Gabe Epperson, Whatcom Land Trust’s Executive Director.
Along with the financial support of the Conservation Futures Fund, the Land Trust also received funding from other public and private sources in order to make this project a reality. These partners include the Ouroboros Foundation, the Norcliffe Foundation, The Conservation Alliance, the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, and the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office’s WWRP Riparian Program, as well as donations from individuals and Land Trust business partners.
Skookum Creek is the largest cold-water tributary to the South Fork of the Nooksack River, meaning its water quality and quantity have a critical impact on the health of the South Fork itself, which in turn benefits salmon habitat, watershed health, the amount of water available for agriculture, and much more. Protecting the riparian habitat surrounding Skookum Creek will prevent sediment flow into the creek and keep its water clean for both human and wildlife use. This additional purchase of Skookum II will also help connect more than 4,000 contiguous acres of additional Land Trust-protected and partner-protected lands, including The Nature Conservancy’s Arlecho Creek Old Growth Preserve and Lummi Nation forest lands.
About Whatcom Land Trust
The mission of the Whatcom Land Trust 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. Since our founding in 1984, the Land Trust has permanently protected more than 24,000 acres throughout Whatcom County, including 14,000 of public park land, 1,200 of working lands for agriculture and forestry, 12,000 acres in the Lake Whatcom Watershed to ensure clean drinking water for 100,000 residents, and more than 36 miles of marine and freshwater shorelines that preserve wildlife habitat. Our staff, governing board of diverse private citizens, and 600-plus volunteers effectively collaborate with over 200 organizations and individuals including private landowners, local communities, Tribes, public agencies including Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham, corporations and other conservation organizations to permanently protect and manage lands and engage local citizens in conservation actions.
Press Contact: Gabe Epperson, Executive Director