September 4, 2000
Transaction preserves 664-acre Bear Creek heartland
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
A 664-acre property full of old growth timber and numerous wildlife species will not become another urbanized land of tract homes with sprayed in lawns.
The property, located in the Paradise Lake Road area, will be preserved in its natural state due to a final agreement on a transaction obtained by Cascade Land Conservancy. Home to the headwaters of Bear Creek, the property supports a diversity of upland and wetland habitat.
Mature forests and open meadows, along with a unique peat bog, provide critical habitat for river otter, beaver, deer, coyote, bear and over 100 documented bird species. Bear Creek provides spawning and rearing habitat for six species of salmon: chinook, coho, cutthroat, sockeye, kokanee and steelhead.
Also present are three species of freshwater mussels, once abundant and now absent in most of the lowland systems.
Cascade Land Conservancy (CLC) is a non-profit organization committed to preserving the natural heritage of Western Washington.
The group recently signed the purchase and sale agreement with the Lloyd family, owners of the property and descendants of the original homesteaders.
At a cost far below its market value, the property was acquired for $3 million. CLC will assign its rights to purchase the property to Snohomish County, which will agree to pay $1.9 million to purchase all of the land and a portion of the timber rights immediately.
At the same time, the County will receive an option to purchase the remaining $1.1 million of timber rights by July 2003.
"It's a great partnership," said CLC Executive Director Gene Duvernoy of his organization's joint effort with the County.
As part of the negotiated agreement, Cascade Land Conservancy will continue in an oversight role to monitor strict protective covenants that will ensure the land remains protected and natural as undeveloped, habitat protective open space.
"We have the right, in perpetuity, to step in and enforce proper stewardship of the land," Duvernoy said.
Not only will the forests and meadows remain protected for wildlife habitat, but the quality of water in Bear Creek will continue to be monitored for salmon and other species.
King County's Waterways 2000 program has protected six river miles of Bear Creek by investing $5.5 million in acquiring land and conservation easements on over 500 acres, thus protecting year-round flow and rearing habitat for salmon in King County.
From its headwaters in Snohomish County, Bear Creek flows into King County through the City of Woodinville and Redmond and feeds into the Sammamish River.
However, there are plans for development of a park on a 29-acre homestead which is located on the Paradise Lake Road area property. Snohomish County Parks plans to renovate the site sometime in the future. Upon completion, it will open as the 'James and Eliza Lloyd Family Farmstead Park.'
Funding for the purchase of the property by Snohomish County comes from a wide range of sources, including the Governor's Salmon Recovery Office, Snohomish County Priority Habitat Fund, Snohomish County Conservation Futures program, King County Conservation Futures program and Seattle Audubon Society. Created in 1989, Cascade Land Conservancy protects and stewards open lands, beaches, wetlands, forests and farmlands in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.
The protection of the Upper Bear Creek basin is just one of many conservation projects, representing about 10,000 acres, that the organization currently has underway.