Online fund-raiser aims to save historic Pierce County barn

A local land conservation organization has started an online fund-raising campaign to help preserve a historic barn in Pierce County.

According to Forterra officials, a circa-1910 barn located on the 98-acre Morse Wildlife Preserve has been the centerpiece for an on-site education program — providing shelter from the weather for visiting school children, a location for storytelling and educational displays, and storage for tools and materials used by volunteers for restoration projects — and is also listed on the Washington State Heritage Barn Register and the Pierce County Register of Historic Places.

Two years ago, the barn was closed due to safety concerns related to the shed roof, which covers the entrance to the barn. Forterra officials are working to fund construction of the first phase of a three-phase project to fully restore the historic barn to the standards of the Heritage Barn Register, which includes mandatory use of costly cedar shake roof tiles. The first phase of restoration to replace the west shed roof will cost $8,500. Last October, Forterra was awarded a $5,000 grant from Pierce County to help pay for the project. That funding, however, will expire if it is not used by the end of September.

If you would like to contribute to the project, visit indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-historic-barn-at-morse-wildlife-preserve. At the $15 level, donors will be thanked for their support and recognized on the Morse Wildlife Preserve Web site. At the $50 level, donors will receive a “thank you” card featuring a photograph of the preserve. At the $150 level, donors will be recognized on a wood-burned plaque that will be hung at the barn after renovation. At the $300 level, donors will receive a unique, framed “thank you” print from Seattle woodcut artist Mette Hansen. At the $750 level, donors will be invited to join a small group for an exclusive tour of the brand new trail network and boardwalk at the preserve.

The Morse Wildlife Preserve was established in 1995 to permanently protect critical wildlife habitat and serve as an educational center for students and the broader community. It is located near the headwaters of the north fork of Muck Creek; composed of conifer forest, wetlands, oak savanna and prairie; and home to a variety of birds, such as owls, raptors, aquatic fowl, and the uncommon western bluebird, as well as wildlife, such as deer, coyote, bobcat, rabbits, and a variety of rodents. It is cooperatively managed by the Morse Force volunteers — a group that holds monthly work parties to restore the wetland, prairie, and upland habitats — and the Tahoma Audobon Society. The preserve is Forterra’s premier site in Pierce County for schools and community groups to participate in outdoor education activities, such as bird watching and trail construction.

More information is available online at forterra.org.