SEATTLE---Seattle City Light's recent purchase of 1,700 acres near the Skagit River brings the utility's total wildlife land holdings to more than 8,000 acres in the Skagit and Nooksack watersheds. These purchases are part of the settlement agreement reached in 1991 for the relicensing of the Skagit Hydroelectric Project.
Few opportunities remain to purchase large pieces of forest property solely for wildlife habitat. This tract is highly desirable because it is the "missing link," joining together other large protected areas in the immediate vicinity, including two already owned by Seattle City Light. Additional funds from the hydroelectric settlement have been set aside specifically for habitat management on the acquired lands which means that the wildlife values of the newly acquired property will increase substantially over time.
The parcel was purchased from the Aloha Lumber Corporation, a timber company based in Olympia.
"This land acquisition helps us fulfill the wildlife conservation goals that are part of our Skagit Settlement Agreement," says Superintendent Gary Zarker. "The Nature Conservancy of Washington also played a key role by helping to identify this property because of its value as wildlife habitat, so we are pleased that we reached an agreement with the Aloha Lumber Company," he adds.
This new purchase in the Skagit River Bald Eagle Natural Area will allow more stable wildlife populations, enhance migration and mobility for wildlife species and generally raise the quality and diversity of the habitat. The combined efforts of Seattle City Light, The Nature Conservancy, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, the US Forest Service and others are protecting more than 10,000 acres of habitat in the Skagit Basin. This natural area supports hundreds of wintering bald eagles, Pacific salmon, migratory songbirds, and numerous other species.