Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Buffer Land Permanently Protected

Half a mile of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), running across privately owned land in Kittitas County, has been protected in a deal negotiated by The Trust for Public Land.

The 480 acres of land owned by Plum Creek Timber Company surrounding the PCT is now under US Forest Service ownership as part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee national forests.

"We have been working for over a decade to help consolidate checkerboard lands along the trail, protecting the experience and scenery for hikers and to provide better access for the public as a whole," said Paul Kundtz, Washington State Director at The Trust for Public Land.

The property is just north of the Norse Peak Wilderness Area, providing striking views of the Cascade Range. It is in the heart of an area of "checkerboard lands," a checkerboard pattern of Forest Service and privately owned land that was originally granted to the Northern Pacific Railway. Acquiring these lands has been a priority for both the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the U.S. Forest Service. This is the third property acquired along this part of the trail since September 2012.

"I am delighted our long partnership with The Trust for Public Land, which has done so much for national forests in this country, has resulted in this purchase, said Kent Connaughton, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Regional Forester. "The addition of Pyramid Peak will enhance hikers' experience on the Pacific Crest Trail and provide a valued legacy on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest."

"This means a lot to those of us who want to provide the natural experience in the Pacific Northwest," said Mike Dawson, trail operations director for the Pacific Crest Trail Association, He said volunteer groups such as Backcountry Horsemen and North 350 Blades do hard manual labor to keep the trail open and accessible to the public. "This makes their work so much more valuable," he said.

The Trust for Public Land worked with Plum Creek to acquire the land and to secure funding for its protection.

The $874,000 purchase was funded from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal government's main source of money for protecting land. The money comes from royalties paid by energy companies for offshore oil and gas drilling.

U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Representative Dave Reichert support LWCF and the effort to protect land along the Pacific Crest Trail.

"I am thrilled this acquisition has come to fruition, and I would like to thank all the partners who made this transaction possible," Sen. Murray said. "The Pacific Crest Trail provides treasured recreation opportunities and the addition of Pyramid Peak will improve recreational opportunities for generations to come. The Land and Water Conservation Fund played an important role in protecting this land for our children and grandchildren and I am committed to ensuring the Fund continues to preserve unique places such as Pyramid Peak."

"Preserving the experience and cherished views along the Pacific Crest Trail near Pyramid Peak is exactly why Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund," Sen. Cantwell said. "The Pacific Crest Trail is a national treasure that provides great recreational opportunities and access to some of the most wild, pristine, and scenic areas in the United States. I will continue to work for investments in the Land and Water Conservation Fund to ensure that more unique places like Pyramid Peak are protected for generations to come."

"The Pyramid Peak property is a stunning and common-sense addition to the Pacific Crest Trail," said Rep. Reichert (R-8). "The enjoyment it brings to my constituents, Washingtonians, and visitors from across the country will be preserved and protected for future generations."

"The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail corridor has been significantly protected with the acquisition of the Pyramid Peak parcel," said Beth Boyst, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Crest Trail Program Manager. "This parcel provides a critical link in protecting the trail experience in Washington and ensures an outstanding recreation opportunity for hikers and equestrians. The Forest Service commends The Trust for Public Land and the Pacific Crest Trail Association for their dedication and leadership in public land stewardship."

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.