King County Executive Ron Sims today introduced two new Earth Legacy measures that will keep about 200 rural acres as active forestlands in perpetuity. He also honored the Boeing Company, John Beal, and
Griffin Creek landowners as King County's Earth Heroes for August and September to honor the valuable contributions they have made in protecting King County’s environment.
Launched in May of this year, Sims’ Earth Legacy Initiative celebrates the importance of protecting and enhancing the county’s natural environment. The Initiative outlines a number of innovative programs that maintain the rich integrity of King County, and encourages businesses, local governments, organizations, youth, employees, and the broader community to be stewards of the environment.
The two measures introduced by Sims today will:
- Transfer Cedar Downs land, 80-acres of wooded forestland bordering Maple Valley and Covington, from the State Department of Natural Resources to King County for public park use. The timber resources will continue to be managed by the state as long as it is consistent with county recreation plans. The site contains wildlife habitat and watershed functions that help the County meet natural resource protection and environmental goals. The cost to King County is a $5,000 administrative fee required by the state.
- Complete Phase II of the Mitchell Hill Connector project. The approximately 110-acre acquisition is under contract to purchase from the Mitchell Hill Partnership. This is a critical link between King County's Grand Ridge open space and a 313-acre McCormick Forest, which was recently acquired under the County’s transfer of development credits. Both properties provide a permanent connection to an existing network of 2,700 acres of public land in the heart of the Mountains to Sound Greenway. As partners, the state of Washington will provide $900,000 in federal Forest Legacy Funds to purchase a conservation easement for forest management, and King County will pay $130,000 from the Working Forest 95 Bond Fund Balance. King County will own the land, and, will, with the state, develop a forest management plan for the site.
“These projects manage our forests for the long term, keep the land in its natural state and preserve open spaces in perpetuity,” said Sims. “Innovative partnerships like these are beneficial not only for environmental safeguards and in managing important forest lands, but because together we are leaving a true Earth Legacy for generations to come.”
“Parks and recreational open space add to the livability and desirability of communities across the region,” said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Larry Phillips. “Preserving such land will also help maintain our outdoor Northwest lifestyle for generations into the future.”
Sims honored the August/September Earth Heroes as well. They include:
- The Boeing Company: (external link) “The Boeing Company is a major corporate stakeholder in this region and in the county that models exemplary stewardship to the environment," said Sims. "It serves as a shining example to others through its business practices from recycling and waste reduction to green building practices, it all makes a difference." For seven years Boeing has supported the Mountains To Sound Greenway Trust with special project staff through its Loaned
Executive Program. Additionally, Boeing has supported the Tri-County salmon recovery efforts (external link) as well as the work of conservation groups including the Nature Conservancy, EarthCorps, The Woodland Park Zoo, and others.
- Griffin Creek area landowners: Bill Knutsen, Ina Knutsen, Stephen and Catherine Malshuk, Steven and Linda Banchero, John Banchero, and Johnny Cohn voluntarily gave up more than 15 acres of land that are now devoted entirely to habitat restoration. In addition, Bill Knutsen is a member of the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum and the King County Agricultural Commission. While Griffin Creek comprises only one percent of the Snohomish Basin area, the stream produces 20 percent of the Snohomish coho salmon population. It is the most productive coho stream in the state. “The Griffin Creek landowners have been extremely generous and receptive to the King County restoration efforts along the stream. They have voluntarily provided wide buffers along the stream, allowed access to conduct restoration and fencing work, and provided opportunities to educate the public about restoration options in rural/ agricultural areas,” Sims said. “Now the creek will have better water quality, more share, and more high qualify habitat for the thousands of fish that return every year.”
- John Beal: When Beal was told he had less than a year to live, he made the decision to put his time and energy into cleaning up Hamm Creek,
which runs from White Center ending at the Duwamish River. Today, 22 years later, this once polluted and neglected 3.5-mile stream has been brought back to its natural state where fish and other habitat have begun to thrive thanks to Beal's unparalleled commitment and vision. Today, Hamm Creek serves as a $3 million project site that will open up the stream to 1000 feet of daylight and create new areas for young salmon through an agreement signed by King County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May 1999.
"Individuals like John Beal and the Griffin Creek landowners remind us of the kind of difference individuals can make in their lifetime," said Sims. "The kind of commitment these citizens have shown to protect and preserve our streams, creeks, and precious salmon habitat is inspiring to all of us. It reminds us that our individual contributions do make a difference."
"It is an honor to recognize the Boeing Company, John Beal, and the Griffin Creek Landowners for their many contributions to this region."
Earth Hero nominations are submitted by any King County resident. Nominees are individuals and businesses in King County that work to make a positive impact on the environment. For more information on the Earth Legacy Initiative, to volunteer or to become involved, contact Joy Shigaki, at (206) 296-4624. The Earth Legacy website can be found at:
Link to: More information about the August & September Earth Heroes
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From left: Lana Beal, John Beal, Kirk Thomson (the Boeing Company), Councilmember Larry Phillips, Johnny Cohn (Griffin Creek landowner), Dean Tougas (the Boeing Company), Bill Knutson (Griffin Creek landowner), Stephen Malshuk (Griffin Creek landowner), Anthony Malshuk, Nikolas Malshuk, Catherine Malshuk (Griffin Creek landowner), and Executive Ron Sims.