Earlier this week the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Department of
Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and Forterra announced the
purchase of 50,272 acres along the Teanaway River and its three forks to be designated as the
Teanaway Community Forest. American Whitewater has long supported the conservation of these lands
that are critical to river health.
The Teanaway acquisition is the largest single land transaction in Washington State in 45 years
and reflects more than a decade of collaboration involving many organizations and individuals.
The property will become Washington’s first Community Forest, a model designed to empower
communities to partner with DNR to purchase forests that support local economies and public
Of importance to the whitewater paddling community, this acquisition will protect riverside
lands, maintain water in the river, and keep the river open and accessible to the public. For
many years the land had been threatened by development and in the arid landscape of eastern
Washington any development would have severely stressed instream flows and increased pressure for
water storage in the basin. The Teanaway is one of the few undammed and unregulated rivers in the
Yakima watershed and the annual spring snowmelt brings fun class II+ boating with some great
surfing spots as the river flows over bedrock ledges. Lands on river right along the main
Teanaway River run will now be in public ownership and protected from development. In addition
the put-in at the bridge just upstream of the confluence of the forks that was private land will
be in public ownership. In addition to the protections for the main Teanway River run, the
take-out for the less frequently boated North Fork Teanaway is also included in this transaction
and will now be owned by the public.
For over a decade, Forterra, a statewide non-profit conservation and land stewardship
organization, worked with the landowner, American Forest Holdings LLC (AFH), to negotiate a
purchase and structure the sale. The Yakima Basin coalition advocated the importance of the
acquisition to the state Legislature. Forterra and AFH signed a sale agreement in April, which
Forterra assigned to DNR after state lawmakers appropriated $87 million for the purchase in the
2013-15 State Capital Budget. DNR supplemented that amount with a $10 million loan from its Real
Property Replacement Account. The land was transferred to public ownership this week.