As of 11:37 a.m. Monday, Washington state’s purchase of more than 50,000 acres of Teanaway forest land was made official.
The transaction marked the end of a process that took more than a decade to complete — one that required politicians on both sides of the aisle working side by side with a slew of public and private organizations to establish the state’s first-ever community forest.
A day after the purchase was finalized, several of the key players in the process gathered at the Swauk-Teanaway Grange near Cle Elum to celebrate the historic accomplishment.
“The Teanaway has been the holy grail of conservation for the past decade,” said Gene Duvernoy, president of the conservation group Forterra. “Conserving 50,000 acres isn’t easy.”
The acquisition of the Teanaway forest land for more than $90 million was a key step in implementing the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan, which attempts to balance environmental and economic needs by protecting the region’s water supply.
The integrated plan was high on Gov. Jay Inslee’s list of priorities when he took office earlier this year, and he was instrumental in securing the funds for the Teanaway land purchase, said Ted Sturdevant, a representative from Inslee’s office who was on hand Tuesday to relay the governor’s excitement for the project.
“This is an incredible gift that you all are giving to future generations,” Sturdevant said. “(The Teanaway purchase) is such a historic thing, a historic achievement.”