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King County directs $109M in levy dollars towards 52 conservation projects

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(The Center Square) – King County Executive Dow Constantine has announced $109 million in levy funds will be sent to 52 projects intended to accelerate conservation efforts.

The $109 million stems from two voter-passed levies: the King County Parks, Recreation, Trails and Open Space Levy and the King County Conservation Futures Fund. The latter has a tax rate of 6.25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. A homeowner with the county’s median home valuation of $807,000 pays $50 annually.

The parks levy is expected to generate an estimated $810 million over six years. The county’s median homeowner pays approximately $148 per year, based off of the 18 cents per $1,000 in assessed value tax rate.

According to a press release from Constantine’s office, the 52 projects intend to increase climate resiliency, access to open space, and advance food sovereignty in areas of greater need.

“This $109 million in new projects prioritizes equitable access to green spaces, including creating opportunities for farmers from communities that historically have been locked out of land access,” Constantine said in a statement.

Approximately $32 million in conservation futures funding will be distributed to 22 city and nonprofit led projects. Highlighted projects include linking the City of Bellevue’s Coal Creek Natural Area with King County’s Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.

Three nonprofits – Wakulima USA, Viva Farms, Washington Farmland Trust and PNW BIPOC Farmland Trust – are utilizing funds to seek land to protect small-scale agriculture.

And in south King County’s City of Pacific, funds will go towards preserving open space and buffering a residential community from freeway impacts.

Approximately $61.5 million in conservation futures funding and an additional $15.7 million in parks levy dollars are going to 30 King County projects. The 30 projects broadly work to protect and restore salmon habitat, expand existing county parks and trails, and create green buffers, according to the county.

Some of the projects to restore salmon habitat include preserving over 70 acres of mature forested slopes including nearshore salmon habitat between Manzanita Natural Area and Dockton Forest on Vashon-Maury Island, and building on salmon habitat enhancements along Bear and Issaquah creeks, and the Green River.

In January 2023, the county allocated $52 million in both conservation futures funding and parks levy dollars to 36 projects throughout the region working to increase access to green spaces, acquire land for habitat restoration, protect tree canopy and improve the local food system.

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