A press release from Pierce County Council.
The Pierce County Council approved legislation Tuesday aimed at open space preservation and salmon habitat restoration across the county.
Through unanimous adoption of resolution R2021-141, Council accepted the recommendations of the Conservation Futures Citizen’s Advisory Board which identified six projects ranked by priority. Conservation Futures funds can now be used to purchase the properties as land acquisition deals are negotiated.
The total amount requested for the six projects is just over $6.2 million. The county’s Conservation Futures fund has $7 to 9 million available in the 2022-2023 biennium.
“These projects represent once-in-a-lifetime habitat and open space opportunities,” said Council Chair Derek Young. “As development pressure increases in South Sound, it’s more important than ever that we protect these properties.”
Topping the project list is the North Creek Salmon Heritage Site in Gig Harbor. This 11.5-acre forested property is sandwiched between the Cushman Trail and Harborview Drive in downtown Gig Harbor, not far from the city-owned Donkey Creek Park. The intent is to leave the majority of the site in its natural condition, while adding non-motorized trails, salmon viewing areas and an interpretive loop with educational signs for the public to learn about the historical and cultural significance of this the stream to the Puyallup Tribe.
Other projects approved include:
- Narrows West: 116 acres in Gig Harbor next to the Tacoma Narrows Park. The project would maintain the site in its natural state, including forested land and shoreline, with a plan to add hiking and biking trails in the future.
- McDermott Point: 12 acres on the Key Peninsula to be managed as a nature preserve with potential restoration of a barrier lagoon, providing valuable habitat for juvenile salmon and forage fish.
- LaBelle property: 20 acres in Puyallup that would mix active and passive recreation with a trail loop, playground, dog park, restrooms and parking and could one day connect via trail to Wildwood Park.
- Parkland Prairie addition: 11 acres in Parkland to remain as passive open space with a portion used for a multi-use Parkland Community Trail and future outdoor educational opportunities.
- Marine View Drive open space: 16 acres in Tacoma to be preserved and managed by the city of Tacoma as passive open space.
“In this grant cycle we look forward to the McDermott Point project, which provides one of the only chances in the county to restore a barrier lagoon habitat for shorebirds, fish, and rare plants,” said Great Peninsula Conservancy Executive Director Nathan Daniel. “We also support the efforts of The Puyallup Tribe and the city of Gig Harbor in their acquisition of the North Creek Salmon Heritage site. This is a great project that will not only protect some of the best Coho and chum rearing habitat around Gig Harbor, but it will also ensure an important cultural heritage site is protected.”
With Council adoption, the Executive is now authorized to negotiate the purchase of the identified properties using the county’s Conservation Futures funds. The money comes from a countywide tax collected for the sole purpose of conserving land within Pierce County to ensure healthy salmon populations, sustainably managed forests, locally grown food and publicly accessible open space for recreation and use by county residents.
“A huge thanks to the members of the Citizens’ Advisory Board who spent many evenings and weekend hours helping to develop rankings and recommendations for County Council consideration,” said Kimberly Freeman, Pierce County Resource Stewardship Superintendent. “We couldn’t do this work without dedicated citizens interested in conservation, the local salmon population and open space.”