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JULY 21, 1997

Local News

Blueberry Farm sold to county

  by Andrew Walgamott
   Looking to improve stream quality in the Bear Creek basin, King County last week closed a deal worth $560,000 to purchase a blueberry farm east of Woodinville. "It's a wonderful acquisition," said Jim Greenfield, King County Office of Open Space administrator. He said the land will be added to the Waterways 2000 program.
  
   The Blueberry Farm, located behind Daniels Creek Park on Woodinville-Duvall Road at 182nd Ave. N.E., is approximately 30 acres. It was purchased from Olympic Coast Mortgage of Seattle after the company foreclosed on the previous owner when he failed to make payments. Greenfield said the property will be maintained in its natural condition, which includes rows of blueberry plants and trees. Several farm buildings on the parcel will be taken out for public safety reasons. In the future, Greenfield hopes to connect the Blueberry Farm to Daniels Creek Park and Basset Pond and other county parks, via trails.

   Farm keeps stream cool
  
   The Waterways 2000 program is designed to preserve salmon habitat by purchasing properties to maintain water quality in key watersheds. The lightly developed blueberry farm and adjacent trees are seen as an integral part of keeping the lower Bear Creek system cool enough for salmon. Daniels Creek flows through the center of the farm before draining into Cottage Lake. Cottage Lake drains to Bear Creek and the Sammamish River. The area acts as a filter to keep the stream cold.
  
   Greenfield said the Bear Creek basin is one of the most productive salmon-producing watersheds in the area, though no salmon spawn in Daniels Creek or Cottage Lake. He said the acquisition will give Woodinville residents a "healthy, productive salmon stream in their neighborhood."According to Greenfield, 465 acres in the Bear Creek watershed have been protected by outright purchases, conservation easements, or open space taxation relief.
  
   "We've done a spectacular job in the Bear Creek Basin," King County Councilmember Louise Miller said several weeks ago. She said the county had invested $4 million in the basin on streams with a return seven or eight times as valuable.
  
   Across King County, 1800 acres in six basins, including Griffin Creek, Patterson Creek and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, have been preserved. The county has agreed to remove debris left on the property by a former owner for a reduction in the purchase price, according to Bob Brown at Olympic Coast. The county will also work out an easement past the former owner's abode, on one acre above the farm.