Opinion

Purchase is a boon to ongoing conservation on Maury | Editorial

Tonight at a public meeting on Vashon, officials from King County will discuss the development of a new plan for stewarding one of Vashon’s most popular public lands: Dockton Forest. While we expect most islanders won’t have comments on the specifics of this proposed plan, the significance of this step should not be lost on us either.

King County has chosen now to look at the health of Dockton Forest because the forest — which is used by walkers, mountain bikers and equestrians — recently grew, in a way. Late last year, the county purchased a wooded piece of property sandwiched between the county-owned Dockton Forest and the former Glacier site, also owned by the county. While the 43-acre parcel has long been leased by King County from the state and was informally a part of the Dockton Forest for years, its purchase created a large, solid piece of county-owned public land that spans the width of Maury Island. When it comes to Vashon’s outdoor spaces, this swath is hard to beat. Where else could one begin a trek on the quiet Quartermaster Harbor, wend their way through a diverse and changing forest, descend a madrone-dotted hillside with breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and end at a driftwood-strewn beach on Puget Sound? That King County has finally secured and protected this piece of the puzzle on Maury is even more significant when one considers the steps it took to get there.

The state Department of Natural Resources could have transferred this site, a former Douglas fir plantation, to King County years ago when it sold its property at Island Center Forest. Instead, it held on to the forestland, assuming it could one day be valuable to the nearby mining operation. The rest is history, as potential mining expansion on Maury was stopped by King County’s purchase of the Glacier site. Procuring the remaining parcel at Dockton then became possible last year when Sen. Sharon Nelson helped secure $4 million in state funds for conservation acquisitions on Vashon, about $200,000 of which went to this purchase.

We’re glad the county and Sen. Nelson continue to recognize the importance of protecting Vashon’s outdoor spaces, preserving in perpetuity places that will benefit the island for years to come. We also commend King County for going one step further in its conservation efforts, working to make this important spot a healthy spot as well, with an ecological thinning of the overgrown Douglas fir forest. The county successfully carried out such work at Island Center Forest, and is also considering how to best steward the former Glacier site — now the Maury Island Natural Area. The nearby Maury Island Marine Park, which could one day be linked to the Dockton Forest as well, is already undergoing an environmental facelift thanks to an effort by the Washington Conservation Corps, which is coordinated by King County. We look forward to watching these former mining and logging sites be reclaimed for the health of Maury and for generations to enjoy.

 

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