Contractor donates restored Oso land to Snohomish County

OSO — The construction company that rebuilt a stretch of Highway 530 after the catastrophic mudslide is donating land to Snohomish County.

The County Council on Monday agreed to accept 36 acres from Guy F. Atkinson Construction.

The company was awarded the state contract to rebuild a stretch of the highway destroyed in the March 22, 2014, mudslide. Forty-three people died in the disaster, which covered a square mile in debris.

The state Department of Transportation reopened the highway to two-way traffic about six months later, ahead of schedule. As part of its work for the state, Atkinson Construction bought land to recreate wetland and stream habitat impacted by the roadwork.

“We’re effectively done,” said Geoff Shook, a locally based manager for the Golden, Colorado, headquartered company. “This is the last piece of work.”

The company plans to continue monitoring vegetation planted for the habitat work over the next three years.

The county intends to keep the land as open space, said Heather Kelly, the official responsible for long-term slide-recovery efforts. The area is off limits to the public.

It’s not the only property in the slide zone destined to remain open space. That’s also the county’s plan for any land it acquires through a federally funded buyout program. The county has sent buyout offers to the owners of 100 parcels affected by the slide.

Separately, the county purchased 13 acres for a future memorial near Steelhead Drive, a street where many of the slide victims lived.

The newly donated property lies south of Highway 530, across from C-Post Road with portions extending toward Seattle City Light power lines. It’s valued at $260,000.

The company bought it last year from Gary “Mac” McPherson, whose wife, Linda McPherson, was killed in the slide. She was a longtime librarian and school-board member in Darrington.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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