King County provides nearly $10 million to South King County for land conservation

Conservation Futures Tax levy allows counties to collect a property tax to protect open spaces.

On Dec. 5, the King County Council approved this year’s Conservation Futures Tax investments – with nearly $10 million going to projects in South King County.

According to the county, these projects aim to increase open space preservation which will aim to build climate resiliency, increase access to open space, and advance food sovereignty throughout King County.

The City of Tukwila was awarded $150,000 to create a rare off-channel rearing habitat on the Lower Green River for juvenile salmon, involving the acquisition of a 1.46-acre parcel, levee setbacks, and strategic design to enhance salmon refuge, food sources, and flood storage capacity.

With its $600,000 allocation, Normandy Park will restore Miller Creek’s natural function and establish a public viewing park for annual salmon returns by acquiring a 0.76-acre parcel, demolishing a frequently flooded home, and supporting the restoration of crucial riparian, wetland, and floodplain functions.

Kent’s own Wakulima USA secured $1,560,000 to purchase 5-acres of farmland in South King County. Wakulima USA is a farming and food business cooperative and will extend farmland access and training to refugee and immigrant farmers, facilitating the establishment of a permanent home in south King County and promoting the cultivation of culturally relevant crops and enhancing community building.

Similarly, the Washington Farmland Trust and the newly established PNW BIPOC Farmland Trust was awarded $4 million for their initiative to address historic disparities in open space and farmland access for Hmong and other BIPOC farmers.

KC Farmland – Protecting Farmland received $3,250,000 to acquire conservation easements and permanently protect nine farms totaling 209-cfacres within the Enumclaw Plateau and Green River Agricultural Production Districts.

“In our rapidly changing region, it’s crucial that we save open space and agricultural land from development,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “These projects are what the Conservation Futures Tax program is all about and I’m thrilled at this huge investment in South King County.”

Fifty years ago, Washington State authorized the Conservation Futures Tax levy, allowing counties to collect a small levy from landowners to protect open space.

King County is one of 14 counties statewide that levy a conservation futures tax – protecting forests, shorelines, farms, greenways, and trails for future generations.

According to the county, this year the conservation investments were double the amount approved last year in part due to King County cutting the matching funds that partners are required to bring to the table.