Thurston County awards $1.4 million to preserve lands

Thurston County commissioners have authorized funding of five land preservation projects through the county’s Conservation Futures Program.

The approved projects were selected after a formal application process, which included the review and ranking of eight applicants.

▪ Capitol Land Trust was awarded $600,000 for the Darlin Creek project. The trust plans to acquire 313 acres along Darlin and Dempsey creeks for restoration and conservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands along the Black River.

▪ South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust was awarded $559,835 to purchase an agricultural conservation easement on Oyster Bay Farm. Funds will be used to preserve land for agricultural use.

▪ Capitol Land Trust also was awarded $122,500 to help fund the purchase of the Shermer property, 21acres of river floodplain and wetland that connect the Deschutes River during high flows. The purchase of the land allows for critical habitat restoration for area salmon.

▪ The Nisqually Land Trust was awarded $120,000 for the Nisqually Whitewater Reach, a recovery project for chinook salmon. The money will be used to minimize the impacts of livestock grazing and residential activities on the salmon’s critical habitat along the Nisqually River.

▪ The city of Tumwater was awarded $14,500 for the Tumwater Brewery Trail Easement. The city plans to use the money to connect Tumwater’s park trails to Olympia’s Woodland Trail and provide public access to viewing areas.

The program fund is collected from a county property tax levy authorized by the Legislature. The funds are used for protection and preservation of working farmlands, timberlands, open spaces, habitat areas and parks.

For 2015, the county collected approximately 4.7 cents per $1,000 assessed value for the fund.

To learn more, go to www.co.thurston.wa.us/home and search “conservation futures.”