King County executive initiates plan to conserve and save the region’s wilderness

May 19, 2022, 2:49 PM

(Photo courtesy of King County)...

(Photo courtesy of King County)

(Photo courtesy of King County)

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a plan to rapidly accelerate the protection of 65,000 acres of forests, farmland, and greenspace, raising property taxes in the process.

The plan would add approximately $2 a month in property taxes for the owner of a median-priced home, according to Constantine.

“This is our generation’s moment to protect the last, best places — forests, trails, rivers, farmland, and greenspace — before they are lost forever,” said Constantine. “By accelerating land conservation throughout King County, we will confront climate change by protecting mature forests, improve habitat for native salmon, strengthen our local food economy, provide more recreational opportunities, and ensure more equitable access to the outdoors.”

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If approved by the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee, the County Council will vote this summer on whether to put the proposal on the November ballot.

Hours after the proposal was announced, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn issued a statement in response, calling Constantine’s plan ‘tone deaf’ against the incredibly high cost of living facing families.

“We cannot again raise taxes on King County residents who are already struggling to make ends meet. A new property tax, in particular, would raise costs for homeowners and renters alike, even as so many are more vulnerable than ever to losing their housing,” Dunn said. “Meanwhile, every King County resident is already feeling the financial pain of record-level inflation and the massive rise in gas prices — and there are many economic unknowns on the horizon, including the significant risk of a recession. To add to this mounting list of financial burdens at this time is tone deaf.”

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Earlier this year, King County Parks became the largest park agency in the nation to earn Salmon-Safe certification for its approach to maintenance and operations, which improves ecological functions. The Parks Division partnered with the Solid Waste Division to remove tons of litter and turn a once-neglected greenspace into a small forest park in urban, unincorporated North Highline.

“Our region is one of the fastest growing in the country. With each passing day, the window of opportunity to conserve our last, best places are closing,” said King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski. “Coupled with higher land prices, the chance to protect these treasured open spaces before they are paved over is evaporating before our eyes, putting at risk the quality of life we enjoy for future generations. It is imperative that we accelerate our efforts now to ensure King County remains the envy of the country for our parks, trails, farms, lakes, and rivers for generations to come.”

Constantine’s Land Conservation Initiative plans to protect the remaining high conservation lands in the region and secure a regional trail network within 30 years, at a cost of $160 million.

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King County executive initiates plan to conserve and save the region’s wilderness