By Jack Stubbs
The greater Pacific Northwest region—and the iconic Emerald City, Seattle, within it—is widely known for its abundance of breathtaking natural beauty highlighted by Mount Rainier and the sweeping Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, which flank Seattle to the West and East, respectively.
With the continued expansion of the Puget Sound region ongoing—driven in large part by the booming commercial and residential real estate markets, and increasing development of the built environment—it can be easy to overlook the natural and agricultural resources that abound throughout the region.
However, as a recent transaction recorded at the end of February demonstrates, local- and out-of-town companies alike continue to target vacant forest land, which is as-of-yet unblemished by real estate development occurring in cities across the region.
On February 20th, twenty seven contiguous of forest land in East Washington near the town of Carbonado in Pierce county, which is located roughly eighteen miles southeast of Sumner and sits on the fringes of Mount Rainier National Park, sold for $35.6 million, public records show.
The buyer was Ontario, CA-based Fruit Growers Supply Company, an agricultural supply-chain company that provides growers from California’s Central Valley to Mexico with customizable, commercial projects, including packaging solutions and water treatment programs. The seller was Tacoma-WA-based Weyerhaeuser Company, a private landowner and provider of environmental and conservational services which looks to maximize the potential of vacant forest land throughout the Puget Sound region.
The recent transaction included twenty-seven parcels of vacant forest land, according to public documents. The parcels are located just east of the town of Carbonado, in Eastern Pierce County, just under thirty miles east of downtown Tacoma via State Route 167.
It is not entirely clear what plans the buyer has for the recently-acquired parcels.
Originally founded in 1907, Fruit Growers Supply Co. (FGS) is an agricultural supplier that was formed by the growers of the Sunkist Marketing Cooperative, according to the company’s web site. The company sources the majority of its timber from forests along the West Coast of the U.S., emphasizing responsible conservation strategies through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard.
Some of the facets of FGS’ commitment to sustainability include reforesting harvested lumber within two years after harvest; utilizing state-of-the-art silvicultural and best management practices to ensure the long-term health of local natural ecosystems; preserving forest lands’ unique biological, geological and historical features; and working with government agencies to aid in the conservation of endangered wildlife species.
Entities throughout the Pacific Northwest region are garnering recognition for their efforts around longer-term agricultural and environmental sustainability. In June 2018, a new headquarters for The Washington Fruit & Produce Company in Yakima—which sits on the eastern edge of Mt. Rainier National Park, due southeast of the the recently-sold parcels of forest land in Carbonado—was awarded the National Institute Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which is the the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design.
The Washington Fruit & Produce Company—a packing and shipping company that is one of the largest in Washington state—had a 16,500 square foot office/manufacturing facility designed by Seattle-based Graham Baba Architects, who received the award along with 16 other recipients throughout the world. The project, sitting in the heart of Yakima—which along with Wenatchee is one of the two major fruit-producing cities in Washington—looks to capitalize on the agricultural and industrial character of Yakima, where the combination of volcanic soil, sunny days and irrigation from the Yakima River supports the region’s many fruit orchards.