County to buy land adjacent to Carbonado

By Shawn Skager

The Courier-Herald

The Pierce County Council was expected to vote Tuesday night on an ordinance that would pave the way for issuance of $20 million in bonds to acquire more than 1,000 acres of land, in several parcels, all earmarked for preservation as wild areas.

The result of the vote was unavailable at press time, but among the several properties listed for acquisition is a 452-acre parcel in the Carbon River Valley, just outside Carbonado.

The purchase of the land, owned by the Plum Creek Timber Company, is being funded by the county's Conservation Futures program, which was established by the Pierce County Council in 1991 to acquire threatened areas of open space, timber lands, wetland, agricultural and farm lands.

“The purpose of the Conservation Futures program is to buy property for future open space and parks uses,” Grant Griffin of the Pierce County Parks and Recreation Department said. The program seeks to protect those open spaces against encroachment by future development.

The program is funded by a county property tax, which requires property taxpayers to pony up 6.25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The money collected is budgeted annually by the Pierce County Council.

Plum Creek has already agreed to the county's offer of slightly more than $1.4 million and is awaiting a draft agreement from the county.

The land was assessed at more than $2.7 million for 2006.

In addition to the land on the Carbon River, the county also contemplated acquiring 620 acres adjacent to Rainier School in Buckley.

Because the land is owned by the Washington State Department of Social Health Services, however, it was deemed non-threatened by development and not recommended for purchase.

Other properties currently being acquired by the county include: 203 acres to be added to the Mount Rainier National Park area and 43.9 acres earmarked for the Orting Community Park.

“Land isn't getting any cheaper,” Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney said. “This land will give us great value in the long run, that's why I'm willing to consider a bond for the purchase of this land,” Bunney said. “It's a smart move for the taxpayers to lock up these purchases now.”

“I think that as we grow we need to be making strategic investments to lock up open space for our children and our future,” he added.

Shawn Skager can be reached at

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