More than 100 people, including several elected officials, attended the grand opening of North Olympic Land Trust's Elk Creek Conservation Area on the morning of June 18 in Forks.
The Elk Creek Conservation Area is the first property NOLT, Clallam County's only local land conservation non-profit, has opened to public recreation and environmental education.
The restored and conserved 255-acre former Rayonier logging property is open to visitors free of charge year-round.
"This was the most successful grand opening in our two-decade history, and perhaps the most important day in the history of our organization," said Matthew Randazzo, the land trust’s development director.
"This is the first park and nature preserve of its size in Forks, and the response from the local community has been incredible."
Randazzo was master of ceremonies for a grand opening morning that included visits from State Representative and County Commissioner Steve Tharinger, State Representative Kevin Van De Wege, Forks mayor Bryon Monohon, county commissioner candidate Linda Barnfather, and Judith Morris, the district representative of U.S. Congressman Norm Dicks.
"When I first got on the salmon recovery funding board as a local government representative and watershed representative, this was one of the first projects we funded," said Tharinger, Clallam County commissioner and state representative for the 24th Legislative District.
"I just want to compliment North Olympic Land Trust for stepping up on this project, and the ancillary to that is how important it is for us to support the Land Trust so that they can continue to do things like this,” he said.
Forks Mayor Bryon Monohon added, “This is a big, big deal. It is not only a big deal to the people of this community, but it's a big deal to the entire county.”