County council approves Lake Sawyer Park land swap

Deal protects land near Black Diamond from development

The Metropolitan King County Council recently approved the transfer of Lake Sawyer Park to the city of Black Diamond, part of a proposal that will allow surrounding property to continue its use as a working forest while protecting the land from development.

”This is a major achievement in the preservation of King County's natural treasures,“ said Councilmember Carolyn Edmonds, who chairs the council's Natural Resources and Utilities Committee. ”I've toured the area we are protecting several times on horseback. These 2,500 acres include amazingly beautiful open spaces with major streams, wetlands and an in-city forest.“

”This transfer will guarantee that 2,500 acres of county land will be permanently preserved as working forest and open space,“ said Council Chair Larry Phillips. ”The legislation reflects the cooperation needed on a local and county level to ensure that our ‘wall against sprawl' is maintained through responsible, managed growth.“

The legislation approved by the council transfers Lake Sawyer Park, a 168-acre undeveloped park, to the city of Black Diamond. The county will retain an easement for a regional trail. The transfer is part of the Black Diamond Open Space Protection Agreement, an agreement between King County, the city of Black Diamond, Plum Creek Timber Company and the Cascade Land Conservancy. Major elements of the agreement would:

€ Grant a conservation easement for 1,600 acres of forestland known as Ravensdale Ridge, owned by Plum Creek, to the city of Black Diamond, assuring its continued use as working forest and constraining any future option for residential development;

€ Protect the expanding regional trail system by adding at least 10 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails;

€ Direct future growth within the Urban Growth Area adjacent to the city of Black Diamond.

€ Allow the county to retain ownership of a second parcel across the street from the park known as ‘the Wedge parcel' for development of a trailhead;

€ Annex specified acreage in the city's defined Urban Growth Area, owned by Plum Creek, into the city of Black Diamond, allowing more intensive residential development on those lands, and focusing urban growth there;

€ Transfer the Ravensdale Creek Open Space north of the city, as well as four additional open space parcels to the south, from Plum Creek Timber Company to King County ownership;

€ Grant conservation easements on several in-city Plum Creek-owned lands to Black Diamond, assuring their continued status as open space;

€ Protect 55 acres that serve as a visual buffer along state Route 169, and protect open space along major streams and wetlands;

€ Utilize $492,401 in Conservation Futures funding to acquire a key in-city open space holding known as Ginder Creek Open Space currently under private ownership, and acquire timber rights to an in-city forest holding, currently owned by Palmer Coking Coal Company. Ginder Creek is an undeveloped 27-acre parcel located in the middle of the city. The city is required to match this funding in order to qualify to receive it and;

€ Grant trail easements to the city of Black Diamond and King County on land owned by Plum Creek Timber Company.

The agreement also recognizes the growth pressures on the area and responds by focusing new development within the Urban Growth Boundary.

”Black Diamond wants to grow, and this agreement allows them to do it in a smart way that both preserves critical open space and places development where services and utilities can be logically and efficiently provided,“ Edmonds said.

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