Community briefs Land trust purchases Piner Point property

King County has purchased a little more than an acre of waterfront on the southern tip of Maury Island as part of its ongoing Maury Island Conservation Initiative, an attempt to protect important marine habitat on both Maury and Vashon islands.

The county completed the purchase on Aug. 29. It paid $975,000 for the property, due in part to the fact that it is a low-bank parcel with a cabin already on it, 225 feet of waterfront and a sweeping view of Puget Sound, said Tom Dean, executive director of the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust. Dean negotiated the transaction for the county.

The parcel is at Piner Point where the county recently purchased six acres, Dean said. This latest purchase brings the Piner Point Natural Area to seven acres. There is no public access, Dean said.

Dean said Piner Point was first identified in 2000 as what he called a “marine hot spot” — a place of ecological significance because it provides excellent spawning habitat for sand lance, surf smelt and other forage fish necessary to support the marine food chain. Overhanging trees also provide needed shade for fish eggs, he said.

The parcel will need restoration work, he added. The cabin, which is in bad shape, will need to be torn down, and the bulkhead — comprised of several creosote pilings — will eventually be pulled out.

“It’s a great opportunity to do some significant restoration,” Dean said.

Center Forest gets parking lot, thinning

A new gravel parking lot has just been installed at the southern entrance of Island Center Forest, the 383-acre expanse of publicly owned woods and trails on Vashon.

The new parking area, located at the end of 115th Avenue S.W. off of S.W. Cemetery Road, was constructed with funds from a $100,000 grant from King County’s community partnership program, which was awarded to Friends of Island Center Forest, according to David Warren, a member of that group.

The grant will also be used to build an additional parking area at the entrance at the end of S.W. 188th Street that will be large enough for six horse trailers to park. Kiosks with information about the forest will be installed at both entrances as well, he said.

The county funds will also pay for 18 signs that will describe the forest’s ecological importance, all of which will be designed by Island artist Sandra Noel, Warren said.

In an unrelated development, the forest is undergoing its second thinning since it went into King County ownership in 2004, Warren said.

Formerly owned by the state Department of Natural Resources, the large forested tract has been logged off and on over the years and is now owned by the county for low-impact recreational use and as a demonstration site for ecologically sustainable forest management.

The latest thinning, Warren said, will not involve the sale of any timber. All of the trees harvested are too small for commercial sales and thus are left lying on the ground, he said.

Clearing out a portion of young or poor quality trees, he noted, creates the room other trees need for healthy growth and development.

“A pre-commercial thinning is similar in concept to weeding a garden,” said Bill Loeber, a forester for the county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

The operation, designed by Island forester Derek Churchill, started on Monday and is expected to end by Friday, Loeber added.

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