Campus receives $750,000 from state for conservation efforts
An allocation of $750,000 for the historic Weyerhaeuser campus conservation effort was included in the state budget approved this year. Initially, $250,000 was approved as part of the Capital Budget approved by the Legislature in January. An additional $500,000 was allocated in the Supplemental Budget, approved in March.
The funding is another step forward toward the goal of purchasing 54 wooded acres of the campus along the North Lake shoreline -- the longest undeveloped shoreline in South King County -- as well as securing public access to some of the campus trails and preserving the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and the Pacific Bonsai Museum. The 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.
The state funds have been allocated "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 is going to Forterra, the land conservancy nonprofit that is working with the city of Federal Way, Save Weyerhaeuser Campus and other stakeholders on the conservancy effort.
After the funding approval, Forterra designated a project manager for the campus efforts. Forterra is applying for grants as part of its overall strategy for securing portions of the campus.
The city of Federal Way has already allocated $1 million in surface water management funds toward purchase of the lakeshore land, funding that has been matched by a $1 million King County Conservation Futures Tax grant. In 2018, the city applied for a second $1 million county grant, with matching money to come from grants and fundraising, through the efforts of Forterra and Save Weyerhaeuser Campus.
It's estimated the lakefront property alone could cost $6-$8 million or more.
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.
Other elected officials who are helping the conservation effort include Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, who pledged the $1 million in city funds, and the Federal Way City Council, which has supported the funding and the application for the matching CFT county grant.
King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer of Federal Way was key in supporting the CFT grant at the County Council.
City, county support for preservation
Save Weyerhaeuser Campus’ efforts to conserve 54 acres of the campus along the west shoreline of North Lake are making progress.
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.
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."