Eight open-space projects survive budget ax

Eight projects valued at nearly $10 million survived cuts to the state capital budget program that funds parks and open space for future generations.

Statewide funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program dropped to $70 million for the next two years, compared to $100 million in the previous two years.

“In light of the economy, this is a great success,” said Eric Erler, executive director of the Capitol Land Trust.

“We’ll see immediate and long-term benefits for wildlife, families and the local economy as a result of this decision,” said Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition executive director Joanna Grist.

A total of 95 conservation projects statewide were funded, compared to 135 two years ago. Funding for projects in the South Sound include:

 • $2.55 million to purchase 112 acres on Harstine Island to connect a state park on the island to other public tidelands, creating two miles of shoreline accessible to the public.

 • $1.97 million to preserve a 725-acre former dairy farm on the Black River, home to wetlands, floodplain and upland habitat. A portion of the property will remain a working farm, Erler said.

 • $1.75 million to protect the rare plants and bog habitat found in the Ink Blot and Shumocher Creek wetlands near Hood Canal and the Skokomish Valley.

 • $1.26 million to add 51 acres to the Woodard Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area owned by the state Department of Natural Resources on Henderson Inlet north of Lacey. The area is home to bald eagles, a heron rookery, a maternal bat colony and harbor seals.

 • $920,180 to help protect 330 acres of river riparian area and 70 acres of uplands along the Black River and Mima Creek.

 • $750,000 to help the City of Olympia pay for 9 acres on Ward Lake slated for use as a public swimming area. David Hanna, associate city parks director, said development of the area could be years away.

 • $270,380 to increase native grassland seeding on south Thurston County prairie properties owned by the state, including Scatter Creek, Mima Mounds, Bald Hill, Rocky Prairie and West Rocky Prairie.

 • $57,500 to help purchase 6.27 acres to add to the Tenino City Park above the spring-fed quarry swimming pool at the park. The land is forested and considered essential to the aesthetic value of the park.

Owned by the Weyerhaeuser Co., the property had been slated for logging until a community group, Friends of Tenino, formed to protect the property.

Additional matching funds are required to complete the purchase, Friends of Tenino member Will Rutherford said.

The only South Sound project lost to the budget cuts was a state contribution of $275,000 to purchase 10 acres of prime waterfront along Goldsborough Creek in Mason County for conservation and passive recreation.