More than 50 projects across King County will receive a combined $109 million in open space preservation funding after a plan proposed by Executive Constantine was approved by the King County Council. This is the first round of funding for open space preservation since King County voters last year approved restoring Conservation Futures Program to its original rate.
One year after King County voters approved Executive Dow Constantine’s initiative to accelerate land conservation, he announced $109 million for 52 projects that will increase climate resiliency and access to open space, and advance food sovereignty where there is the greatest need.
The conservation investments – approved by the King County Council – double the amount approved last year. Another reason for the sharp increase is that King County cut in half the amount of matching funds that partners are required to bring to the table. This unlocks additional conservation funding available from the voter-approved King County Parks Levy and other funding sources.
“King County is fulfilling its bold vision to secure farmland and preserve open space for future generations. This $109 million in new projects prioritizes equitable access to green spaces, including creating opportunities for farmers from communities that historically have been locked out of land access,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “These projects accelerate our investment in saving the last, best open space resources that make our region livable and special.”
Working with willing landowners, projects that receive funding advance the Strategic Climate Action Plan, Land Conservation Initiative, Local Food Initiative, and Clean Water Healthy Habitat. It will protect a total of 3,000 acres.
The County Council on Tuesday approved the allocation plan developed by Executive Constantine, who based his proposal on recommendations from the Conservation Futures Advisory Committee.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for conservation in King County. Conservation Futures is making historic investments in open space- protecting forests, salmon, farmland, and creating new trail opportunities and urban green spaces,” said Catherine Gockel, Chair of the Conservation Futures Advisory Committee. “We applaud the County’s commitment to equitable green spaces for all and reducing barriers for local communities to access this important conservation funding source.”
Investing in city and nonprofit projects that promote access to recreation, strengthen the local food economy
Twenty-two projects led by cities and nonprofits will receive a total of $32 million in Conservation Futures funding, increasing access to recreation where the needs are greatest, and supporting community-based agriculture in communities with limited access to farmland and fresh produce. Highlights include:
- Supporting Wakulima USA, Viva Farms, and Washington Farmland Trust in partnership with PNW BIPOC Farmland Trust: Three farmland nonprofits seeking land to protect small-scale agriculture and redress historic inequities in land access for farmers of color.
- Linking the City of Bellevue’s Coal Creek Natural Area with King County’s Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, closing gaps and creating a contiguous wildlife and recreational corridor on the growing Eastside.
- Protecting the last piece of undeveloped waterfront on Echo Lake in Shoreline, within walking distance of affordable and supportive housing development and bus rapid transit.
- Preserving open space and buffering a residential community from freeway impacts in the City of Pacific in south King County.
- Helping Seattle Public Utilities close gaps in a large-scale salmon habitat restoration project along the Cedar River, creating a publicly accessible site for salmon viewing.
Restoring salmon habitat, expanding parks and trails, creating green buffers
Thirty King County projects will receive $61.5 million in Conservation Futures funding and an additional $15.7 million in Parks Levy County open space funding. These projects protect and restore critical salmon habitat, expand existing county parks and trails, and create green buffers. Highlights include:
- Phase-one funding to protect 5 acres at Seola Pond in North Highline securing greenspace for a community with unmet park needs.
- Building on conservation and salmon habitat enhancements along Bear and Issaquah creeks, and the Green River.
- Protecting 344 acres of upland forest and riverfront at Camp Waskowitz, an outdoor education camp in North Bend serving White Center, Burien, and other south King County schools. It will also connect Boxley Creek Natural Area and the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.
- Connecting trail opportunities between Manzanita Natural Area and Dockton Forest on Vashon-Maury Island and preserving over 70 acres of mature forested slopes including nearshore salmon habitat and public beach access.
- Keeping more than 400 acres of threatened farmland in agricultural production in the Snoqualmie and Green River valleys, to grow local food and mitigate the effects of climate change.
- King County Conservation Futures
- Land Conservation Initiative
- TRACKS: An interactive map of environmental stewardship in King County
King County is fulfilling its bold vision to secure farmland and preserve open space for future generations. This $109 million in new projects prioritizes equitable access to green spaces, including creating opportunities for farmers from communities that historically have been locked out of land access. These projects accelerate our investment in saving the last, best open space resources that make our region livable and special.
This is an incredibly exciting time for conservation in King County. Conservation Futures is making historic investments in open space- protecting forests, salmon, farmland, and creating new trail opportunities and urban green spaces. We applaud the County’s commitment to equitable green spaces for all and reducing barriers for local communities to access this important conservation funding source.
Doug Williams, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, 206-477-4543