The Friends of Heybrook Ridge: Our Story of Cooperation by Louise Lindgren
In the fall of 2006 a notice appeared on the general store bulletin board stating that clear-cut logging was proposed for 95 forested acres of Heybrook Ridge across from the small town of Index. A few citizens reacted quickly with a kitchen table confab to plan opposition to the action. Fortunately, one participant had a long-term friendship with a member of the logging company’s family, and through that relationship, dialog was begun and continued through the winter. Due to Index’s history of logging, the owners of the company (W.B. Foresters) were surprised by the opposition to their plans. They had waited 30 years for the trees to be ready for harvest and expected their land investment to pay off, with a short-term benefit of jobs for townspeople that would be welcomed.
Dialog Avoids Confrontation
Once the timber company owners understood that Index was no longer a logging town, but was instead primarily supported by recreational visitors attracted to the area’s scenic values, they agreed to work with the community to seek resolution. In February 2007, Friends of Heybrook Ridge was formed as a non-profit 501c3 organization. From the beginning, the group agreed to avoid taking a confrontational stand, believing that the timber company had a right to profit from its investment. That attitude convinced the company to delay logging for a year so the group could raise $1.3 million to buy the land and preserve it for a park.
Expanding Support for the Friends
With a town population of only about 160, it was clear the Friends needed involvement from supporters throughout the region. The board and other volunteers began fundraising events and outreach to potential supporters in environmental and recreational groups, cultural resource organizations, tourism related businesses, and media of all forms. Support was raised from the Pacific NW and across the nation. A national group of professional book indexers joined the effort simply because the town was named Index. Guidance was offered by the Cascade Land Conservancy (CLC, now named “Forterra”) and the Nature Conservancy.
Small Successes Lead to Large Donations
Most donations were modest, but with over 200 supporters and a few $10,000 donors, by 2008 over $100,000 had been raised. That spring, as the deadline approached with funds still far from goal, an anonymous donor came forth with $500,000. That large donation was enough to create matching funds needed for an application to the Snohomish County Conservation Futures Fund. W.B. Foresters generously agreed to shift the deadline forward by several months and to lower the price to $1.2 million. We were granted $640,000 in conservation futures money and shortly thereafter, negotiations to purchase the property as a gift to Snohomish County Parks were guided by CLC staff and a pro-bono lawyer for Friends. The Buse family’s timber company sealed the deal in July 2008, with all partners in the effort satisfied that, indeed, the Friends’ vision of Heybrook forest’s preservation for passive park use with natural and cultural resources interpretation was the best possible outcome for all, forever.