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County buys land for salmon habitat
PRESTON _ King County has acquired 53 acres of undeveloped
land near Preston in an effort to preserve the salmon habitat of the Raging River.
The county bought the land, located about a mile north of
Preston, for $900,000. The purchase was funded through the King County
Early Action Endangered Species Act and state Department of Natural
Resources Forest Legacy programs.
The land will be protected as permanent open space under the
county's Earth Legacy 2000 Initiative, and includes more than one-half mile
of property along the river. According to King County Executive Ron Sims,
the land was close to being developed for residential use.
"We know that one of the keys to saving salmon in King County is
the protection of prime fish habitat along our rivers, lakes and streams,"
Sims said in a statement. "If we had not acted, this property was at risk of
being developed with five new homes.
"This acquisition will preserve another 53 acres of critical
salmon habitat in the Snoqualmie River watershed, which supports the
largest chinook salmon run in King County."
In addition to the land along the river, the site also contains
two streams, four wetlands and areas of mature, second-growth coniferous
forest. Al Dams, spokesman with the King County Park System, said in
the future the land could be used for trails and interpretive opportunities,
but salmon habitat would retain priority over any other uses for the land.
The Park System will be responsible for managing the site.
"We'll go in and take a look at it and find out what the natural
features are and the things we need to
protect," he said. "But typically, there are
opportunities for some walking trails, and we've got some really great
interpretative [efforts] going on in King County."
A number of different salmon species can be found in the Raging
River, including chinook, coho, pink, chum and steelhead. According to Sims,
the lower six miles of the river once provided many diverse spawning
habitats, but much has been lost over the years to river diking.
Dams said the Earth Legacy 2000 Initiative, the program under which
the purchase was approved, aims to improve the quality of life for people
and wildlife in King County. Besides land acquisition, the program honors
individuals and companies working to clean up the environment.
The initiative has helped protect other land for salmon habitat.
Earlier this year, Nestle USA donated approximately 60 acres of land along
the Snoqualmie River to the county.
"That piece that Nestle donated to the county was our No. 1 priority,"
said Richard Corff, project administrator in the Resource Lands and Open
Space Section of the King County Department of Natural Resources. He
added that Valley landowners have been receptive to efforts to preserve
"We've had just terrific dealings with folks in the Valley," he said.
The county has also purchase 9.5 acres along the Tolt River east of
Carnation and is working to acquire more. Corff is currently trying to buy
several tracts of land north of Fall City. He works in conjunction with
the Snohomish Basin Salmonid Recovery Technical Committee to select
sites that have the best potential for salmon restoration.
"It's an assemblage of about 50 acres, and God it's beautiful
salmon habitat," he said of the Fall City land.
The county's efforts already show promise. Corff said state Fish
and Wildlife officials recently stated the reach of the Snoqualmie River
below Carnation has the highest density of salmon spawning in King County.