NISQUALLY RESERVES TO EXPAND
Good work continues to protect the Nisqually River watershed and the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve in Puget Sound. The Nisqually Land Trust helped raise about $70,000 of the $258,000 collected by partner groups to buy 17.6 acres on Anderson Island.
The parcel expands Jacobs Point Park to 100 acres and gives public access to about 1,600 feet of undeveloped shore.
The trust leveraged private funds with those of Pierce County Conservation Futures, a state aquatic lands enhancement account, and a private donor, according to Joe Kane, executive director of the nonprofit trust.
The aquatic reserve runs from the Nisqually delta to state-owned lands across the reach, including beaches around Anderson, Ketron and Eagle islands. The reserve aids juvenile salmon that feed along the shore before going to sea.
The trust had a hand in buying other parcels along the river’s Whitewater Reach area near Yelm. This reach is a priority area for the recovery of Chinook salmon and steelhead runs.
The parcels also allow a future extension of the Yelm-Tenino Trail, using a vacated rail line, according to Yelm Mayor J.W. Foster, who also is president of the land trust board.
The trust now owns most of the Nisqually River shoreline on the Thurston County side from Nisqually Pines to the McKenna bridge. Three-quarters of the shoreline is protected up to Alder Dam through purchases by the trust, the Nisqually tribe and Joint Base Lewis McChord.
These are important steps to ensure the long-term viability of this salmon-bearing river.
TOURISM BILL MAY HELP RURAL AREAS
The Great Recession triggered spending cuts that left Washington, which has an estimated $17.6 billion a year tourism industry, without state-funded tourism promotions six years ago.
With Mount Rainier, the Cascades and Olympics, Pacific Coast, Puget Sound and numerous recreational and cultural areas in Eastern Washington, a little promotion might help rural areas of the state that live off tourism. After the state tourism office closed in 2011, the privately funded Washington Tourism Alliance was formed.
A bill passed unanimously last week by the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee seeks to revive some of the tourism office activities. It would require that each state dollar spent to promote tourism is matched by two dollars from industry.
House Bill 1123 is sponsored by Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, and co-sponsored by nearly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. Among them are Reps. Andrew Barkis of Thurston County and J.T. Wilcox of Roy, both Republicans. Their 2nd Legislative District includes a rural swatch of Thurston County and lies in the shadow of Mount Rainier.
The bill would create a new state tourism authority and state account to hold the funds. Up to $2.5 million a year of public funds would be raised by diverting about 0.1 percent of the state’s general retail sales taxes collected on lodging, car rentals and restaurants. Money could be spent on a contract with a nonprofit for a multiyear tourism marketing plan focused on natural wonders and outdoor recreation in rural counties.
Money will be hard to find in a year the Legislature is seeking new resources for K-12 public schools in response to state Supreme Court orders.
Finding a way to leverage state investments in promotional or marketing activities that help the state’s rural zones is a good idea.
BEER HISTORY WORTH PRESERVING
The defunct Olympia Brewing Co. in Tumwater was once Thurston County’s major employer. The company’s slogan, “It’s the Water,” is well remembered in the community.
Now a $5,000 grant from the Thurston County Historical Society will let the Olympia Tumwater Foundation preserve advertising as well as paintings and photos from the brewery’s history from the 1930s to the 1980s.
The grant comes at a time city leaders are trying to revive the local brewing identity. A proposed craft brewing and craft distilling hub and education center are still in the early stages.
The private foundation received a grant last year to preserve roughly 6,000 of its 10,000 photos collected from the brewery and the Schmidt family, which founded and operated the brewery. Foundation curator Karen Johnson says the goal is to eventually display the materials.
The historic materials are now kept in a temperature controlled basement at the historic Schmidt House, but will be transferred into acid free containers and catalogued for future retrieval.
And an art show in the fall will let the public view about 20 to 30 pieces. We look forward to seeing them on display.