33 acres purchased along South Prairie Creek
At the end of December land conservation agency Forterra announced it acquired a critical 33-acre section of privately owned property along South Prairie Creek in Buckley.
In 2019 the Pierce County Council approved Conservation Futures funding to help purchase the property, which is part of a larger restoration effort to protect critical salmon habitat and floodplain along South Prairie Creek.
The 33 acres are adjacent to the existing 134-acre South Prairie Creek Preserve and once vacated will be added to a larger floodplain restoration project.
“Preserving this critical piece of floodplain fits into a larger puzzle of conservation efforts in this area that have been in the works for nearly 20 years,” said Pierce County Council Vice Chair Dave Morell. “This is a collaborative project that required various agencies to work together to make it happen and I appreciate that partnership and initiative to see it through.”
South Prairie Creek is a tributary to the Carbon River, which flows from the Carbon Glacier on Mount Rainier, and is one of the principal salmon streams in the Puyallup-White River watershed. South Prairie Creek provides habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook and steelhead as well as Coho, Chum, Pink, Bull trout and other species.
Forterra will hold ownership of the property and temporarily lease it back to the sellers, who previously used the property to house a residence, horse boarding and racing facility. Ultimately all structures will be removed, and the property will be transferred to the Pierce Conservation District in 2023. Upon transfer restoration work will begin.
The long-term goal for the larger South Prairie Creek Preserve is to improve water quality, enhance salmon migration, create spawning habitat and restore the floodplain.
“This project demonstrates the importance of collaboration, communication and relationships. It only became a reality after years of diligence and commitment by many people and agencies,” said Kimberly Freeman, Resource Stewardship Superintendent with Pierce County Parks.
Those involved with the purchase and ongoing conservation efforts of South Prairie Creek include Forterra, the county’s Conservation Futures and Surface Water Management divisions, the Pierce Conservation District, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, state Recreation and Conservation Office, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group and the Puyallup/Chambers Salmon Recovery Lead Entity.