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Land trust, county buy land to preserve habitat

The Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust purchased nine acres in the lower reaches of Judd Creek this week, bringing the ownership in its Paradise Valley Preserve to 78 acres.

The land trust has been working to protect the Judd Creek watershed — the Island’s largest — for several years. Tom Dean, who heads the land trust, said this latest purchase is particularly meaningful because it puts into protection a part of the stream that is complex and relatively intact and that is close enough to the stream’s mouth to harbor both chum salmon and steelhead.

“This is a new area for us as we go downstream,” he said.

“It’s exciting to be getting down into that reach,” he added. “It has some big trees and big rocks and a lot of nice structure that will make it resilient.”

The land trust bought the undeveloped property, located on 107th Ave. S.W. just south of S.W. 216th, from Ron Douglas for $305,000. It adds to the land trust’s checker-boarded ownership in the history-rich Paradise Valley, where the organization has been proceeding parcel by parcel as it works to protect Judd Creek from its headwaters in Island Center Forest to its mouth in Quartermaster Harbor, Dean said.

Meanwhile, in a separate set of transactions, King County recently purchased two waterfront parcels totaling 10 acres north of KVI Beach. The purchase, said Greg Rabourn, the Vashon-Maury Island Basin Steward for King County, puts 485 feet of shoreline in protection, doubling the length of shoreline the county owns along what it calls the Point Heyer Natural Area.

Point Heyer, the place name for KVI Beach, contains the largest natural-barrier lagoon remaining in the county, Rabourn said. The county established the natural area in an attempt to protect the lagoon and Point Heyer; by conserving the bluffs and shoreline north of the lagoon, the county is helping to safeguard a long stretch of naturally occurring erosion and tidal action that feeds Point Heyer, he said.

“It’s a complete ecological treasure,” he said of the lagoon.

Funding for the purchases came from a mix of sources, Rabourn said, including the county’s Conservation Futures Fund, the state’s Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account and a recent countywide park levy.

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