Lake Wilderness Arboretum Foundation 

The Lake Wilderness Arboretum Foundation (LWAF) is a nonprofit organization that serves as steward for Lake Wilderness Arboretum. Under a joint user agreement with the City of Maple Valley, LWAF maintains the Arboretum in a way that preserves, protects and displays Northwest ecosystems and cultivated landscapes. LWAF is managed by a Board of Directors that operates per a set of approved bylaws.

The Foundation started with the dream of one man. The idea of a public arboretum in south King County began to take form in 1965 at a small meeting in the Renton home of George Tersiisky, a then-recent immigrant from Bulgaria. Enthused by Tersiisky’s dream, the first supporters, Ardis Johnson, Lillie Wagner and Mayor Isabel Hogan, recruited like-minded volunteers and designed a blueprint for action. A non-profit foundation was incorporated in the State of Washington that same year as the South King County Arboretum Foundation (SKCAF). Busy years followed as the founders addressed the many needs of a young organization with limited funds, minimal familiarity and no land.  Over the years, a site was secured with the cooperation of King County and work began to develop it. After the City of Maple Valley was incorporated, it finalized the transfer of the Lake Wilderness Park and Arboretum property from King County. The name of the Arboretum and Foundation were changed at that time. 

With the rapid loss of open space and environmental learning opportunities, the Arboretum trail system and gardens provide a unique opportunity for anyone who visits. The Foundation’s ongoing maintenance and improvements to forested areas, trails, display gardens and plant collections help provide a setting where visitors can enjoy and study both natural and cultivated landscapes in an otherwise urban area.

As part of our stewardship, the Foundation also supports horticultural science and conservation by providing educational opportunities in those areas.

Our Vision

Our vision* for Lake Wilderness Arboretum is that it showcase Northwest ecosystems and cultural landscapes that promote horticultural science and provide opportunities for educational and recreational experiences.

To realize this vision, LWAF is committed to:

  • develop and maintain Lake Wilderness Arboretum in cooperation with the City of Maple Valley
  • create educational programs in partnership with the regional community that will provide opportunities for environmental education
  • gain national recognition for the Arboretum
  • provide opportunities for individuals, community groups and neighborhoods to enhance their surroundings
  • collect and propagate plants for the purpose of income, distribution and study

*as defined in the Vision 2010 presentation