On January 5, Forterra and Hood Canal Salmon Enrichment Group (HCSEG) announced the final step in a four-year strategy to conserve Big Beef Creek, a critical salmon habitat in the Hood Canal watershed. The recent purchase and transfer of 50 acres completed the conservation effort.
Under the stewardship of the HCSEG, the habitat will continue to flourish and support the larger ecosystem, including migratory bald eagles and orcas.
“We are at an urgent moment for salmon, for orcas, for our communities. Sustaining the bounty of Puget Sound requires us all to stretch to make the most of natural places, like the spectacular estuary at Big Beef Creek,” said Michelle Connor, Forterra President and CEO. “We are fortunate to have farsighted donors and guarantors who enabled us to make a critical contribution to our region’s resilience in a changing climate.”
Big Beef Creek is a special project that HCSEG has been restoring for the past 15 years given its prime position for spawning and rearing habitat for the region’s salmon. In 2017, HCSEG and the University of Washington, which formerly owned the land, approached Forterra for assistance in securing the site until it obtained enough grant funding to acquire and permanently conserve the site. With the help of a $250,000 loan guaranty from The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) in 2019, Forterra and the HCSEG previously purchased a 297-acre property at Big Beef Creek.
“We are honored to support Forterra and Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group in their mission to protect and preserve land that is critical to the environmental ecosystem of our state,” said Kathleen Simpson, CEO of The Russell Family Foundation.
The purchase of Big Beef Creek is a major milestone and a conservation win that TRFF is proud to have a small part in. Loan guarantees are a powerful tool in philanthropy as they provide opportunities for organizations who may not have immediate access to capital to still secure funds to continue projects.
Another example of this was when TRFF partnered with Forterra and the City of Puyallup to acquire five acres of urban wildlife habitat in Puyallup, known locally as Dead Man’s Pond. The pond is home to the endangered Western pond turtle and provides important habitat for other wildlife. Big Beek Creek and Dead Man’s Pond illustrate how loan guarantees can be implemented to conserve lands critical to native habitats and the larger ecosystem.
To learn more about Big Beef Creek estuary conservation and restoration read their press release here.