County adding acres to Paradise Valley greenbelt

A green oasis of Snohomish County parkland with hundreds of acres of woods and wetlands is about to grow.

The Lloyd family is selling 121 acres of their farmstead to the county, which will merge it with the Paradise Valley Conservation Area next door. The conservation area covers 667 acres and is among the largest properties owned by the county.

The Lloyd family used to own it all, but sold the conservation area to the county in 2000 for $1.9 million.

Selling another piece of the Lloyd family homestead to the county “is a good way to preserve their grandfather’s legacy,” lifelong family friend Hal McCormack said.

“Since they’ve gotten so much enjoyment living out in Snohomish County, it’s great to be able to give something back to the community,” he added.

The county is able to afford the $1.875 million purchase for the 121 acres by drawing on money paid by King County to offset impacts of the Brightwater sewage treatment plant nearby in Maltby. The kitty is $70 million for roads, streams and parks projects.

The Lloyd property could have been profitably developed for housing any number of times over the years, but the family preferred to preserve it for future generations, County Council chairman Dave Somers said.

The vastness of the nearly 800 acres makes it rare in the county’s park system.

“It really is special,” Somers said. “It’s forever.”

County parks director Tom Teigen called the park land “an amazing asset.” He said plans are under way to someday make parts of the park into hiking and biking trails and set aside other areas as wetlands and animal habitat.

By preserving the entire conservation area formerly owned by the Lloyds, it also protects the sensitive headwaters of Bear Creek, which flows south through King County’s suburbs.

The land is mostly raw and undeveloped, with wetlands and bogs.

The Lloyd family settled the untamed land in 1888 and did some farming there. The years marched on and housing developments sprawled nearer, especially on the King County side of the line.

The Cascade Land Conservancy helped broker the original purchase of the conservation area in 2000. It took two more years to raise an additional $1.1 million needed to buy the timber rights on the property.

The county reportedly paid $1 million less than the assessed value of the land and timber because the family was driven to preserve the land, not develop it.

“Over the next century our growth is going to be stunning,” said Gene Duvernoy, president of the Cascade Land Conservancy. “If we don’t save these special areas now as we grow, it’ll be just an urban area without anything that makes it livable.

“This will allow our future cities and neighborhoods to have some very special places. That will make a huge difference to our kids and grandkids.”

The deal for the land is expected to be finalized this summer.

“I really see this, as time goes on, becoming a gem of a park that we will never have the opportunity to put together again,” Somers said. “It’s a great gift to the county.”

Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or jswitzer@heraldnet.com.

Details

Paradise Valley Conservation Area

1888: Homesteaded by the Lloyd family

1894: A log house was built on the land

2000: Snohomish County buys 667 acres for $1.9 million

2002: Snohomish County spends $1.1 million for the timber rights

2008: County to pay the Lloyd family $1.875 million for 121 acres

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