Council OKs making request for Wallace Falls land transfer

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council gave the go-ahead Monday to a land transfer to preserve trails and scenery near Wallace Falls State Park, but some questions remain about who will end up paying for it.

A deal has been under discussion for about a decade. The current proposal includes 25 acres of forest north of Gold Bar that the state Department of Natural Resources manages for the county. Profits from logging operations there are earmarked for the Sultan School District, Sno-Isle Libraries, Valley General Hospital and Fire District 26.

By a 5-0 vote, the council authorized Executive Dave Somers to ask the state to transfer control of the land back to the county through a process known as reconveyance. That would remove 25 acres from 187-acre harvest known as the Singletary sale, but also take some money away from local governments.

“We need to get this going so we still get 85 percent of the money,” said County Councilman Sam Low, who spearheaded an earlier proposal that was rejected by a state board. “Because if we don’t, they get zero.”

The whole parcel had been set to go to auction in February with a minimum bid of $1.8 million. A majority of the County Council voted Feb. 22 to ask the state to postpone the sale and remove the 25 acres. Low voted “no” out of concern for lost revenue to local governments. The council’s other Republican, Nate Nehring, also voted in opposition, saying he wanted to support timber jobs.

The remainder of the land is set for auction in May. No exact date has been set.

The move could cost the county up to $200,000 in fees and survey costs. County parks director Tom Teigen said “we would be very surprised” if the actual amount approaches that total.

A harvest is unlikely to happen before 2018. That should give the county time to figure out how to make up for any lost revenues for other local governments, Teigen said. The county has options to compensate any money lost from the Sultan School District’s construction budget, but lacks that flexibility for other taxing districts.

“We should be able to make the school district whole,” Low said. “But there doesn’t appear to be any mechanism to make the other taxing districts whole, yet.”

Low said that would be his priority.

Councilman Terry Ryan wanted to be cautious about making any financial promises before knowing how they will affect county finances.

“It’s no secret that the budget situation here is precarious,” Ryan said.

Logging the Singletary tract would require building roads and bridges. That infrastructure would provide access for future logging of another 1,500 acres of trust land near Wallace Falls.

The transferred acreage should help connect the park to a trailhead that the county already owns and provide better trail loops.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Letter
Oak Harbor legal staff quits over ‘compromised’ relationships

The city attorney and the senior assistant city attorney, who is also the public records officer, both resigned.

Work on the light rail trackway will require over two weeks of overnight closures of 236th Street SW near I-5 in Mountlake Terrace. (Sound Transit)
Overnight closures set for 236th Street in Mountlake Terrace

The closure just east of I-5 means a detour for drivers to reach the interstate until Oct. 14.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office released this image of a possible suspect in a homicide at a gas station at 148th Street SW and Highway 99 near Lynnwood. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office) 20210926
Detectives investigate homicide at gas station near Lynnwood

One person was killed and a suspect was at large, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

Zach Graham stands in front of a newly restored Three Fingers Lookout. (Friends of Three Fingers Lookout)
Volunteers give makeover to precarious Three Fingers Lookout

Up high, with cliffs on all sides, the 90-year-old hut got much-needed new windows, shutters and paint.

Arlington son, 19, charged with slaying his father

Nicholi Melum had been yelling at his son, Garner, when he was killed.

Marysville man shot in hand during apparent drug robbery

At least two suspects were being sought, and police are seeking surveillance video.

The city of Everett is pursuing changing its municipal code's language to replace gender-specific pronouns with gender neutral words. Instead of his/her the code would use the specific position or title, such as police officer or public works director. (City of Everett)
Everett considers gender-neutral terms for municipal code

References to “he” or “she” could change to title-specific words such as “firefighter” or “police officer.”

Michealob Johnson (left), 25, is accused of killing Jae An at the Food Mart in the 6900 block of Broadway in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Trial begins for man who admitted killing a mini-mart clerk

Michealob Johnson is accused of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2019 stabbing death in Everett.

Shots fired Monday afternoon at grocery store in Clearview

There was a large police presence at a Safeway off Highway 99 after gunshots were reported.

Most Read