LAKE ROESIGER — The state Department of Natural Resources got the green light Tuesday to buy almost 2,900 acres of rural timberland that a developer until recently had eyed as a site for a mini-city.
The state’s Board of Natural Resources unanimously approved the deal. That clears the way for the state and Snohomish County to create a vast wilderness park that they would operate jointly.
“We have a letter of agreement with the seller,” Natural Resources spokesman Bob Redling said. “What needs to be done now is essentially completing the deal.”
The new park east of Lake Stevens would be about twice the size of the county’s Lord Hill Regional Park near Monroe.
The total price for the land is nearly $8 million, slightly less than its appraised value, Redling said. The county’s portion of that is just under $1.4 million, the state’s about $6.6 million.
Under the plan, Snohomish County would control public access to the future park, while the state would manage most of the area for timber. Every few decades, the state would harvest timber and send any profit to its Common School Trust, which pays for building public schools statewide.
Snohomish County plans to acquire a 40-acre piece of land at the north end of the property plus an easement on 200 acres of the state land. The state would own 2,845 acres. The Cascade Land Conservancy has been helping with the purchase.
The land belongs to developer Dave Barnett of Shoreline, who in years past had been trying to build 6,000 homes there. His proposed “Falcon Ridge” development also would have included shops and a golf course. The county in 2009 did away with the zoning that would have allowed Falcon Ridge to be built.
County Council Chairman Dave Somers said that a year ago, he doubted any plan to turn the land into a park would ever become reality. The idea initially received a lukewarm reception from state officials, Somers said, but state Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark eventually warmed to it.
“It’s a win-win all around,” Somers said.
“It also avoids really unwise development that was proposed out there in the rural area so this is also a good deal for the taxpayers.”
The County Council last week also approved using conservation futures money for several other purchases:
•$500,000 to help Mukilteo buy 98 acres of privately owned land in Japanese Gulch for trails and wildlife habitat.
$25,000 to help Granite Falls buy 23 acres the city wants to use for hiking trails, ball fields and an outdoor amphitheater.
$225,000 to help the Echo Paradise Community buy 30 acres of land in Quinn’s Crossing in Maltby to preserve an aquifer and the headwaters of Bear Creek.
$400,000 to help Everett buy land to expand Harborview Park.
$380,000 to buy more land adjacent to parcels the county already owns on the west side of Lake Stickney.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org.