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Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Washington

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A huge, bitterly contested western Washington land exchange between the Forest Service and the Weyerhaeuser Co. has been completed with the government agreeing to pay $6 million to buy back about 700 acres of the land. The so-called Huckleberry Land Exchange helped inspire a scathing congressional review of property exchanges nationwide and prompted changes in the way the Forest Service trades land. The swap was formalized in 1996. But the Muckleshoot and others continued to file appeals until, in May 1999, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Forest Service's environmental review of the swap had been 'lopsided.'' The court ordered the agency to review the swap. In the final version, Weyerhaeuser gave up about 30,000 acres scattered from near Index in southern Snohomish County to just northeast and west of Mount Rainier National Park in southern Pierce County. The settlement will allow Weyerhaeuser to keep 3,600 acres of prime timberland on Huckleberry Mountain, near Enumclaw, that it acquired from the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The land Weyerhaeuser is selling back to the Forest Service contains portions of the Huckleberry Mountain Divide Trail, areas the tribe considers culturally significant, and lands with 200-year-old trees.