Conservation
3:26 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

King County reaches deal to preserve 43,000 acres of forestland

King County has reached a preliminary agreement to permanently protect a big chunk of forestland in the Cascade foothills.

The stretch of White River Forest spans 42,962 acres — about the size of Bainbridge Island and “the largest swath of unprotected forestland remaining in King County,” according to King County Executive Dow Constantine.

If the King County Council approves the deal, the land will become part of what Constantine calls the “green wall against sprawl.”

“Preservation of the White River Forest is one of the biggest conservation opportunities of the decade. Future generations will be able to enjoy the landscape we see out the windows of this building today for centuries to come,” Constantine said Thursday from the 75th floor of Seattle’s Columbia Tower, overlooking the foothills.  

The land would still be owned by Hancock Timber Resource Group, which would have the right to continue harvesting timber.  

Recreational uses and light building would also be allowed, but residential development would not, meaning no suburban-style houses would be built.

The easements would cost the county $11 million out of its open space fund. Council members of both parties said they’d push for quick passage.

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