Leaders laud land program for 30 years of conservation

August 28, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Aug. 28, 2012

King County leaders highlighted the program used to preserve 111,000 acres of farmland, forests, parks and open space countywide, including Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and Taylor Mountain near Issaquah.

In a recognition Monday, King County Council members marked 30 years of milestones in the Conservation Futures Program — a long-term effort to expand and maintain a open space.

In 1982, King County became the first county in the state to use Conservation Futures Funds. Cougar Mountain is the initial parkland purchased with program funds.

“It is important to preserve our open and natural spaces for recreation and reflection on our environmental heritage,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, Issaquah’s representative, said in a statement.

The recognition honored the county executive and council members from 1982, plus the 13 current and 31 past volunteers on the program’s Citizens Oversight Committee.

The committee makes recommendations on parcels for purchase through the Conservation Futures Program in a competitive application process.

“Lands acquired with Conservation Futures funding enable us to maintain open space for people to hike, relax and enjoy nature as well as providing wildlife habitat and making an investment in quality of life for future generations,” Lambert continued.

The program — a component of environmental protection legislation adopted by the Legislature in the 1971 — is supported by a countywide property tax. Under state law, tax revenue is only used to purchase open space or resource lands.

“Over the last 30 years, acre by acre, the Conservation Futures Program has amassed an extraordinary legacy of green spaces that are now preserved from development in perpetuity,” Councilman Larry Phillips, recognition sponsor, said in a statement. “The people behind this forward-thinking program have ensured that the great landscapes and tremendous natural beauty we all cherish will remain a part of this region forever.”

The program enabled officials to purchase 99,000 acres of forestland in the Cascades and foothills, more than 4,700 acres of riverside habitat, more than 3,500 acres of parks and trails, more than 3,000 acres of urban open space, and more than four miles of Puget Sound shoreline.

“Conservation and preservation are values King County residents take very seriously,” Issaquah-area Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement. “I commend all the hard working volunteers and all involved who have made the Conservation Futures Program a successful one for 30 years.”

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