30 acres to be acquired
StoryVashon Island’s Island Center Forest, an important aquifer recharge area for the Island, will expand thanks to proceeds from the adopted King County Parks Levy Levy and funds from the Conservation Futures Fund. The Island Center Forest project was recommended to receive funding to acquire nearby property and approved in the budget the King County Council adopted on November 17.
“Expanding Island Center Forest protects the Vashon Maury Island ecosystem,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, who represents Vashon on the County Council.
The project will receive $100,000 in Conservation Future funds and an additional $350,000 from the Parks Levy. The funds will be used to purchase a total of 30 acres: a 20-acre inholding, bordered on three sides by public ownership; and ten acres on the south side of the forest, including a five-acre fee simple property with a portion of Judd Creek, and an adjacent five-acre conservation easement under the same ownership.
The goal of the project is to expand Island Center Forest, which contains two large ponds and forested headwaters of Judd Creek, which flows south into Quartermaster Harbor, to 97.5 acres with nine parcels.
King County and the Vashon/Maury Island Land Trust (VMILT) have a goal of creating a trail from Island Center Forest down Judd Creek to Quartermaster Harbor. There is longstanding local support for this acquisition from several non-profits, including VMILT, the Vashon Forest Stewards, Vashon-Maury Audubon, the Vashon Parks District, the Vashon Sportsmen Club, the Vashon Horse Association, and other citizens and neighbors.
The Conservation Futures Fund is supported by a countywide property tax, which by state law can only be used to purchase open space or resource lands. While county government and incorporated city governments are the primary applicants for these funds, citizen groups and individual citizens have received Conservation Futures Funding through partnerships with local jurisdictions committed to helping acquire the open space. Recommendations on parcels for purchase are made by a Citizen Oversight Committee in a competitive application process.
Renewed by voters in 2013, the King County Parks Levy raises revenue for the maintenance and operations of the County’s regional park system, as well as funding for local city parks and the Woodland Park Zoo.