January 5, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tami Pokorny, Natural Resources Program Coordinator
CONSERVATION FUTURES FUND GRANTS AVAILABLE
FOR OPEN SPACE PROJECTS IN JEFFERSON COUNTY
PORT TOWNSEND – Jefferson County welcomes applications to protect important open space lands through the county’s Conservation Futures Program.
Open space lands provide important functions and amenities including:
- Protecting wildlife habitat and corridors,
- Conserving cultural resources,
- Expanding and protecting habitat for salmon,
- Protecting water quality, water supply and soils,
- Enhancing or protecting scenic views,
- Retaining forested areas,
- Providing opportunities for education and passive recreation, and
- Supporting the welfare of residents and visitors in Jefferson County.
Jefferson County, the City of Port Townsend, tribes, special purpose districts, citizen groups and citizens of Jefferson County may make application for funds to acquire and protect open space lands. Projects must be represented by a sponsoring organization with the capacity to secure matching contributions, to enter into an agreement with Jefferson County, and to provide long-term stewardship of properties acquired.
In the 2023 funding cycle, approximately $230,000 is available to new projects. Of this amount, up to approximately $43,000 is available to reimburse operations and maintenance expenses for any property acquired with the Conservation Futures Fund. A minimum matching amount of 50% of the total project cost is required of the project sponsor. Sources of match must be non-county funds such as private contributions, state or federal grants, or the value of other open space lands linked to the project.
The deadline to submit applications is March 25, 2023. For an application and more information, contact Tami Pokorny at (360) 379-4498 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The annual project application process is directed by the Conservation Futures Fund Citizen Oversight Committee. Each Spring, this committee evaluates project applications for their public benefit and makes recommendations to the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners who, after a public hearing, decide which projects merit funding. Meetings of the Committee are open to the public. The Conservation Futures Fund and Program are governed by Section 3.08 of the Jefferson County Code. The Program was created in 2002 to help ensure that the county retains adequate wildlife habitat, working farms and forests, scenic areas, and culturally and historically significant open space lands here – all for the health, benefit and welfare of citizens. Funds are made available through the County’s smallest property tax levy.
Last year, applications for the Quimper Trustland Transfer and the Ruck Salmon Creek projects were received by the Board of County Commissioners. Both projects are sponsored by Jefferson Land Trust. On August 1, 2022, the Quimper Trustland Transfer project was awarded up to $199,500 from the Conservation Futures Fund towards the fee simple acquisition of a total of 107 acres to protect four State-owned parcels located in the Quimper Wildlife Corridor just outside of the Port Townsend city limits for fish and wildlife habitat, open space, and recreation use. The properties are currently leased to Jefferson County. The application also requested and received up to $5,500 towards reimbursement of operations and maintenance costs. The proposed matching contribution is $215,200 in community funds raised by Jefferson Land Trust. Conservation Futures Committee member and former chair Mary Biskup remarked, “The whole Quimper Wildlife Corridor is so valuable to our community, both as an amenity for outdoor and forest recreation and as ground water retention and recharge, not to mention the flora and fauna that is preserved. The Quimper West parcel is obviously well used and cared for, and the Quimper East parcel feels important due to the housing development just to the east of it. We are so lucky to have these valuable open spaces preserved for Jefferson County in perpetuity, and any time that the County can acquire additions and links to existing parcels it seems like an important contribution of Conservation Futures to do so.”
The Ruck Salmon Creek project will receive up to $126,375 towards the acquisition of 155.3 acres in one parcel for the purpose of protecting about one mile of Salmon Creek mainstem as well as forested slopes, uplands and portions of six tributaries. The project was also awarded up to $8,625 to reimburse for operations and maintenance costs. The proposed match is $561,750 in grants from the state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board and WWRP Riparian Habitat programs. Ms. Biskup also commented that, “the Ruck property is valuable in a number of ways, first as a large property and a beautiful one, too, which will be great for [public access] hiking and exploring. And the value of the mile-long riparian corridor for salmon, including spawning summer chum, winter steelhead, and adult coho, along with habitat for adult fall chum is critical. The Land Trust plans to significantly enhance the watershed values of the property, which will be a benefit to a large Jefferson County area downstream, and the planned work in the upland forest will enhance the property's resilience to climate change. The current landowner is ready to sell, now, and it feels like purchase of this property is symbolic of the importance of the Conservation Futures program and goals to Jefferson County.”
Presentations about the program and past projects are available throughout the year by request to the Environmental Public Health Department. Visit the Conservation Futures Program and Committee website to learn more about current and past projects at www.co.jefferson.wa.us/commissioners/Conservation/conservation.asp.
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