State Capital Budget includes $250k for shoreline conservation efforts

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An allocation of $250,000 for the Weyerhaeuser campus lakeshore conservation effort is part of the state Capital Budget awaiting approval by the state Senate.

The budget document specifies that the funds would be provided "solely for the planning, development, acquisition, and other activities pursing open space conservation strategies for the historic Federal Way Weyerhaeuser campus. The grant recipient must be a regional nonprofit nature conservancy that works to conserve keystone properties selected by the city of Federal Way."

The money would go to Forterra, the land conservancy nonprofit that is working with the city of Federal Way on the conservancy effort.

Key to getting the money in the House budget were 30th District Reps. Mike Pellicciotti and Kristin Reeves, both of Federal Way. Support in the Senate has come from 30th District Sen. Mark Miloscia and Sen. Joe Fain of the neighboring 47th District.

The Senate vote on the Capital Budget is being delayed by a debate over a water rights issue. Read more about the reasons for the delay in The Seattle Times and in The Spokesman-Review.


City, county support for preservation

Save Weyerhaeuser Campus’ efforts to conserve 45+ acres of the campus along the west shoreline of North Lake are making progress.

All thumbs up after success at the County Council.

On Feb. 27, the King County Council unanimously adopted a motion that moves the city of Federal Way closer to obtaining $1 million in matching funds from the county’s Conservation Futures Program (CFT). The advisory motion asks that the CFT committee members give priority to project applications in the North Lake-Hylebos watershed area, along with two other areas in the county.

If granted, the county money would be matched with $1 million in Surface Water Management funds pledged by the city. The total of $2 million is just a portion of what may be needed to negotiate a purchase of lakefront parcels (click here for a map) from Industrial Realty Group, which bought the 430-acre campus from Weyerhaeuser in February 2016.

On Feb. 23, Mayor Jim Ferrell announced he has selected Forterra to work with SWC in its efforts to purchase the land. The Washington State House of Representatives has included $250,000 in its draft budget that would go to Forterra to help with land appraisal, due diligence on the property and negotiations with IRG. Negotations are under way with the state Senate to include the $250,000 in the combined final state budget.

The mostly undeveloped, forested shoreline is a crucial piece of the North Lake-Hylebos watershed and includes trails that have been open to public use for more than 40 years.

Save Weyerhaeuser Campus efforts include helping preserve the globally important Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and the world-class Pacific Bonsai Museum, which both sit on leased land that is now owned by Industrial Realty Group.

Members have long been working with the city, IRG and land conservation organizations toward an acquisition strategy. In early January, the mayor asked his senior policy adviser, Yarden Weidenfeld , to help SWC find "a pathway forward" for funding resources that could help preserve the property.

Side notes

County Council Member Pete von Reichbauer wore something special for the Feb. 27 council meeting -- a Weyerhaeuser tie, given to him by George Weyerhaeuser in the 1970s. Von Reichbauer, then a state senator, introduced the legislation that changed the name of the road through the corporate campus to Weyerhaeuser Way. 

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell told the King County Council Feb. 27 that, in his probably 20-plus  years involved in public policy, "I have never seen such a vigorous public outreach program as we've seen from the Save Weyerhaeuser folks."