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Conserving wildlife habitat, agricultural and forest lands, scenic open space, wetlands, and shorelines for the benefit of our community and as a legacy for future generations.

Anacortes - ACFL Property

Property Description

The preservation of Anacortes Community Forest Lands has been a community effort since 1999. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

The Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL) protect over 2,800 acres within the City of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. The ACFL encompass a mosaic of forest, wetlands, lakes, and meadows set aside through the collective action of local citizens and community organizations to preserve valuable habitat and open space. Over the last two decades, stewardship of this environmental and recreational resource has been shared among many agencies. 

Conservation Story

Since 2011, 1680 of the  Anacortes Community Forest Lands have been protected by Skagit Land Trust-held conservation easements under the City’s Conservation Easement Program. The community of Anacortes has wholeheartedly supported this project since it began in October 1998. These acres are now protected from commercial development, tree cutting, and mining. For more information about the conservation easement agreement between Skagit Land Trust and the City of Anacortes, see the City of Anacortes Community Forest Lands webpage.

The Anacortes Community Forest Lands were protected through the effort of community members. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

Partners in the continued preservation of this land include: 

  • Anacortes Forest Advisory Board: The Anacortes Forest Advisory Board is an advisory board to the City Council on use policies and management of the ACFL. The Anacortes Forest Board meets the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Anacortes Senior Activity Center (1701 22nd Street).

  • Friends of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands: The Friends of the Forest is a non-profit citizens organization dedicated to the preservation of the ACFL through education, outreach, and stewardship. We first formed in 1987 to “preserve, protect, and enjoy” our community forest. Our group was instrumental in the successful effort to halt revenue logging in the ACFL, and essential to the creation and promotion of a system to provide long term legal preservation of the forest. We welcome all who share in our mission.

The Anacortes Community Forest Lands include over 50 miles of mixed-use trails. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff. 

Site History and Ecology

The Anacortes Community Forest Lands (ACFL) protects forests and wetlands on Fidalgo Island from commercial use and preserves habitat for many protected species in Washington State including bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers and wood ducks. 

The Anacortes Forest Lands were originally purchased by the city of Anacortes from the State of Washington in 1919 to preserve Heart Lake as a reservoir for public water supply. During this period of ownership, the majority of the property was logged. Trees on the property range today from 40 to 80 years old with a few older trees scattered throughout. 

The land on the west side of Heart Lake Road north of Pine Ridge preserves a 20-acre area of old growth Douglas-fir and western hemlock forest. Low elevation old-growth forests such as these are rare in Washington State and provide important  nesting habitat for marbled murrelets, a threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

Mushrooms bloom in the late fall along trails in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

Mushrooms abound in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands. Below: Amanita muscaria ("Fly Agaric") mushroom. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff, December.

Amanita muscaria ("Fly Agaric") mushroom grows in Anacortes Community Forest Lands. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

The Anacortes Community Forest Lands also preserve many acres of wetland habitat including 32nd street Swamp, Mitten Pond, Little Beaver Pond, Cranberry Lake and Heart Lake. The wetlands are vegetated by cattails, water lillies, rushes and sedges. These wetland areas provide important habitat for many species of mammals, birds and amphibians including wood ducks, beaver and red-legged frogs. The ACFL serve as an important buffer zone between Heart Lake and residential development on the northwest side of the property. The ACFL connects to other habitat preserved by other state and local agencies on Fidalgo Island, including Mount Erie, a nesting site for peregrine falcons. 

Wetlands in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands are important habitat for many species. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

Access

The Anacortes Community Forest Lands contain over 50 miles of multiple use trails in the forest lands. Today the land is open to the public for recreation and educational use. All trails are open to hikers with bicycles, horses and 2-wheeled motorcycles allowed in limited areas. We ask all users to recreate responsibly and share the trails. Dogs must be on a leash at all times.

The Pine Ridge loop is a popular trail in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

We encourage you to visit this property! 

Click here for a Google map link to the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.

Trail maps of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands are available from the Anacortes City Hall, the Anacortes Visitor Information Center and from local merchants. Maps are printed in color on water resistant paper and show trail access and sanctioned usage.

Click here for a link to trail maps from the City of Anacortes.

Community members participate in a field geology class at Anacortes Community Forest Lands. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

How to Get There

There are many ways to access the Anacortes Community Forest lands. See the section above for a link to the City of Anacortes hiking maps. From Burlington, take WA-20 west across to Fidalgo Island, turn left to stay on WA-20. Turn right at Campbell Lake Road, stay right at the fork and the road becomes Heart Lake Road.

Property Info

  • Type: Conservation Easement
  • Location: Anacortes
  • Acreage: 1680 acres
  • Date Added: Since 1999
  • Please visit this property!

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