Opinion

Editorial: Dirt bike-riders are coming to the table too late

It’s understandable that dirt bike-riders would like to be able to use their machines at the former Glacier Northwest mine site — an undulating expanse of acreage now under county ownership. On quiet, conservation-minded Vashon Island, they have few places to go.

But it seems highly unlikely that such an outcome could result from the county planning process now under way. The reason is simple: Funding sources almost always come with strings attached, and the primary funding source in this instance was the county’s Conservation Futures Fund, a program that doesn’t allow for such a use.

The Futures Fund, collected from property taxes levied across King County, are — by county statute — to be used for “the permanent protection of important habitat lands, including, but not limited to, forest, agriculture, scenic and ecological lands.” Only passive recreation is allowed.

What’s more, such use could obviously fly in the face of a cleanup plan, which will likely call for an approach that keeps the arsenic-laced soil as undisturbed as possible.

We sympathize with those who attended a public meeting last week and stood up to describe their historic use of the site. If this use is taken away, some said, they’ll have no place to ride.

But we also note that in the long campaign that led up to this historic purchase, their collective voices were silent. As a group, they didn’t help in the 13-year effort to block Glacier’s mine expansion. Nor did they play a role in the private fundraising effort, spearheaded by Vashon’s land trust and Preserve Our Islands.

To enter the picture now, asking for special considerations, is to come to the table far too late.

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