By Dan Wheat
October 4, 2013
CLE ELUM, Wash. — State agencies, environmentalists and farmers celebrated a $100 million state purchase of 50,272 acres of timber and grazing land north of Cle Elum on Oct. 1 and its designation as the state’s first community forest.
The purchase saves the land from potential development and as part of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan will lead toward more irrigation water for farmers and ranchers in the basin, said Peter Goldmark, commissioner of Public Lands, and others at the celebration.
The event was held at the Swauk-Teanaway Grange Hall, 10 miles east of Cle Elum, in the Teanaway Valley. Goldmark said the deal officially closed that morning and is the largest single land purchase by the state in 45 years.
“The Teanaway River is a confluence of many branches. This celebration today is the confluence of the work of many people,” Goldmark said.
While the inability of Congress to work together shut down the federal government in recent days, diverse groups working on the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan in recent years have taken heat from their own constituencies in collaboration and compromise for the common good, said Phil Anderson, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.