- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

CLE ELUM, Wash. (AP) - The Nature Conservancy says it is buying nearly 75 square miles of forestland in the central Cascade Mountains to protect valuable wildlife habitat.

The $49 million land purchase announced Monday runs along both sides of Interstate 90 between Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum.

The group is also buying about 183 square miles in Montana’s Blackfoot River Valley.

The conservancy is buying the land in both states from Seattle-based Plum Creek, one of the nation’s largest private landowners.

In Washington, the land is home to diverse wildlife, such as elk, wolverine, birds and spotted owls and connects public federal and state lands in the headwaters of the Yakima River.

The purchase doubles what the group owns outright in the state.

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