Exit133 is about Tacoma

Puyallup Land Conservation a Boon for Endangered Turtles, City Residents

Thanks to funding from the Pierce County Conservation Futures Program, Forterra (formerly Cascade Land Conservancy) and the City of Puyallup conserved 8.66 acres of forested wetlands in southwest Puyallup. Forterra negotiated the sale of the property by a private landowner to the City in late April. The urban pond, known locally as Dead Man’s Pond, is home to the federally endangered western pond turtle, provides important habitat for other wildlife and increases public access to natural areas within city limits.

“Dead Man’s Pond is a real asset for Puyallup’s ecology as well as its residents,” said Forterra South Sound Conservation Director Jordan Rash. “We are especially excited about the conservation as it marks our first project with the City of Puyallup and continued progress on The Cascade Agenda.”

The Cascade Agenda, Forterra’s long-range action plan for the central Cascade region’s lands and communities, aims to conserve almost 1.3 million acres of land. The Agenda takes a holistic approach to economies, communities and land conservation.  Efforts like Dead Man’s Pond are critical for its success.

“This acquisition protects an urban pond that provides important habitat for wildlife and migrating birds,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “That’s exactly what the Pierce County Conservation Futures program is designed to do – protect natural areas at-risk of development. That’s a key component to creating healthy, livable communities. I’m thankful for this successful partnership with Forterra and the City of Puyallup.”

Dead Man’s Pond provides important habitat for the western pond turtle, an endangered species native to the Pacific Northwest. It was listed as endangered in Washington in 1993 and conservation efforts have been helping their populations grow from an estimated low of just 150 wild western pond turtles in 1990. The turtles inhabit slow-moving streams, marshes, ponds, lakes and canals with muddy bottoms and, according to the Woodland Park Zoo, habitat alteration and destruction have contributed to the demise of the turtle in western Washington. The Zoo has been engaged in ongoing research and recovery efforts.

“Protection of coastal wetlands—a habitat that has suffered 90 percent loss in greater Puget Sound since 1900—at sites like Deadman’s Pond is a very high priority for many aquatic species, including the endangered western pond turtle. We are delighted to see that Deadman’s Pond, a place where western pond turtles were once found, is now protected as it provides a critical aquatic link to Clarks Creek, Puyallup River and Commencement Bay,” said Woodland Park Zoo Vice President of Field Conservation Fred Koontz.

In addition to the western pond turtle habitat, Dead Man’s Pond is home to deer, heron, eagles and other wildlife.  The pond flows to Clarks Creek, a small, spring-fed tributary to the Puyallup River, which is an important salmon-bearing river.

“City ownership of Dead Man’s Pond means that we’re able to protect and expand very important forested green space,” said Puyallup Mayor Rick Hansen.

The property is adjacent to over 150 acres of publicly owned open space, including 55 acres of land owned by the City, further increasing public access.

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About Forterra

Forterra fills a unique niche as the largest community building and conservation organization dedicated to this region. They partner with leaders and residents across the region to create healthy, livable and prosperous communities. For over 20 years, Forterra has led efforts to conserve more than 177,000 acres of forests, farms, shorelines, parks and natural areas and restore critical landscapes. They encourage broad collaboration across all sectors and emphasize the link between vibrant cities and healthy lands. Forterra advances pragmatic solutions to our tremendous population growth with policy, land transactions, community engagement, environmental stewardship and more. Their work is grounded in market-based approaches with the understanding that economic vitality and environmental protection are both critical to maintaining our region’s quality of life for the next 100 years. www.forterra.org


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