Simpson named county 'earth hero'

NORTH BEND - North Bend Mayor Joan Simpson was proclaimed an "earth hero" for Fall 2001 by King County Executive Ron Sims last week.

"Through effective partnerships and the dedication of Mayor Simpson and the Trust for Public Land, our region's environment will be protected for generations to come," Sims said in a written release. "I am pleased to honor and recognize the outstanding collaborations that have taken place in King County."

Simpson, who became mayor of North Bend in 1996, has worked on several natural preservation initiatives around the Valley. She said preserving open space has been one of her most important duties as mayor.

"I was very honored to receive the award," Simpson said. "Preserving land is something I have always strived for."

She has supported the efforts of the Mountains to Sound Greenway and played a primary role in the preservation of the Meadowbrook Farm between North Bend and Snoqualmie.

Simpson was at the forefront of the city and community effort to preserve the Tollgate Farm earlier this year as well. She helped engineer the levy to raise funds to buy the "central meadow" of the farm, and once that didn't pass in September, she worked to help create a deal with the Trust for Public Land to purchase the land.

Out of the more than 400 acres that make up the Tollgate property, only about 30 acres will be zoned for development.

"This is really an award on behalf of the council [North Bend City Council] and the whole community that helped preserve the land," Simpson said.

Although Simpson has been a part of several large, public land purchases, she said she never set out to turn North Bend and its environs into one giant park.

"It has never been my desire to grab all the land in the city," Simpson said. "The idea of separating our urban areas and preserving the entrances to our cities is very appealing. There has to be a balance, and I think we are getting close to a very wonderful balance."

Also named as earth hero for 2001 was District 3 Councilwoman Louise Miller, who leaves office at the end of the year. Miller was also involved in initiatives that helped preserve Rattlesnake Mountain and the Meadowbrook Farm.

You can reach Ben Cape at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at

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