The Loomis Forest Fund spearheaded by Conservation Northwest protected 25,000 acres of key lynx forest habitat in north-central Washington state, a result of the imagination, forethought, and generosity of all who took part.
How we saved the Loomis Forest
In 1999, a home-grown campaign called the Loomis Forest Fund succeeded in doing what few thought possible. In a mere 12 months, the coalition effort grew to 70 organizations and businesses. Marshalled by Conservation Northwest, the partnership effort raised $16.5 million from private individuals and foundations, to protect 25,000 acres of the Loomis State Forest in northeast Washington, important habitat for Canada lynx. The bulk of the forests protected were trust state lands, and the money raised was paid into the trust fund for the schools, compensating the school trust and bolstering education.
Watch a video about the Loomis campaign
Today, the Loomis Forest is split into two parcels and preserved as natural resource conservation areas. Loomis North adjoins the Pasayten Wilderness Area to the west and Canada to the north. Loomis South contains the Upper Sinlahekin River drainage. Managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the conservation areas are today protected from roadbuilding and logging.
A place for lynx
In the Loomis, mid-elevation, fire-adapted forests of lodgepole pine and higher elevation stands of spruce and fir provide particularly rich habitat for the threatened Canada lynx and for snowshoe hares, their main prey and food source. The Loomis is such prime habitat that a third to one half of the approximately 100 to 150 lynx remaining in Washington are thought to live there.
Supporters of the Loomis Forest Fund gave a most generous gift to Washington State residents, children, and wildlife. All who helped make this a reality deserve many thanks. Protecting the Loomis was a success for wildlands, wildlife, and the schools, wrought by the imagination, forethought, and the generosity of all who were part of it.
Some campaign history
In 1998, the Loomis Forest Fund, a coalition effort spearheaded by Conservation Northwest (then called Northwest Ecosystem Alliance) set out to raise $13.1 million to compensate the school trust for the fair market value of these lands. The opportunity came about as the result of a landmark agreement with the state of Washington to settle lawsuits over management of 25,000, mostly roadless, acres in the Loomis State Forest. Conservationists had one year, till July 1, 1999, to raise the funds to pay fair market value of the standing timber to the school trusts and protect the Loomis Forest.
In the summer of 1999 things were going well–and the Loomis Forest Fund had raised most of the money through small to large donations from about 3,500 people–when, in the last few breathless weeks of the campaign, a second assessment of the timber value of the lands came back $3.4 million higher than the original assessment. In the nick of time, philanthropist Paul Allen contributed the entire extra amount, clenching the deal. The closing price then went directly into the school trust fund to benefit the schools.
On January 4, 2000, the Board of Natural Resources unanimously approved the final quitclaim deed to transfer ownership of the Loomis wildlands from school trust to natural resource conservation area status, and, as such, they are now managed to benefit all the people of Washington.