The Gift of Conservation Futures
By Terry Lavender
Conservation Futures is a small portion of your property
tax specifically dedicated to acquisition of land in King
County and its cities for conservation and open space. It was first introduced
in the State Legislaturein 1971 by Kirkland Republican Alan Bleuchel as
part of a larger package of environmental legislation that also established the
State Department of Ecology. The legislation stated that it is a ‘fundamental
and inalienable right’ of citizens to have a healthy and pleasant environment.
Governor Dan Evans signed the legislation into law. Every county was granted
the right to collect funds to purchase Open Space.
The interesting fact is that no county used this authority until 1982
when King County used it to jump-start the Farmlands Preservation Pro-
gram and purchase a large portion of Cougar Mountain. King County has
collected the funds ever since.
This region is shaped by conservation—it is our soul and our legacy. In
the past three decades, Conservation Futures has been the largest single
financial contributor to this effort. In Bear Creek, these funds have con-
tributed to nearly every piece of property protected—from the Upper,
Middle, and Lower Bear Creek Conservation areas; Cold Creek and Mary
Cash Farm; the wetlands along Evans Creek; the newly purchased proper-
ties south of the Tolt Pipeline Trail; the confluence of Mackey Creek, and
others in the works. Snohomish County used this authority for half of the
funds to purchase the Paradise Valley Conservation Area. You can multiply
this success across King County in every river and creek system, city open
space parks like Bellevue’s Mercer Slough or Seattle’s Thorton Creek, over
100,000 acres of forest development rights purchased and protected farm-
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of King County using this fund. At a
celebration of some of the founders and longtime advocates, King
County Executive Dow Constantine, a strong supporter of this funding gave
a speech on the measure.
Read Terry's entire article and Dow's speech in the Water Tenders Fall Newletter