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County buys 90 acres in SK

"Kitsap County has purchased 90 acres of property surrounding Wicks Lake in South Kitsap, paving the way for a new county park, and has the option to acquire 1,600 acres of additional forested space.The agreement between Kitsap County and the McCormick Land Co., signed and sealed on Jan. 9, includes two trail easements that connect Wicks Lake to Square Lake State Park. The county bought the property at its appraised value, which was a noteworthy $525,000, with the county's Conservation Future Fund.With the purchase, the county could over the next few years acquire an additional 1,260 acres of property located to the west of Wicks Lake, by way of a non-binding option. If the county does choose to buy up that land, McCormick promises to donate to the county 365 acres of additional property connecting Calvinwood and Square Lake, which are both publicly owned recreation facilities.By all accounts, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners are pleased about the recent acquisition because it ensures open space restoration in the face of development all throughout the county.We are in a race to protect what is precious, said County Commissioner Chris Endresen in a prepared statement. Counties across the state are making open space purchases that represent enlightened and visionary leadership and Kitsap is proud to be among them.County officials say state and national standards indicate Kitsap County is deficient in all recreational categories based on facilities per capita data, which accounted for parks, open space, trails, ball fields and water access.With this recent purchase, the county will own two-thirds of the entire shoreline surrounding Wicks Lake.The Conservation Future Fund, which is fueled by a property tax rate established in 1990, was created under state law by then county commissioners John Horsley, Billie Eder and the late Win Granlund.At the time, officials say lawmakers reasoned preservation of open space constitutes a key public asset in the face of impending or current development, while providing for the welfare of residents.Using the dedicated (Conservation Futures Fund) Wicks Lake and the trail easements are a welcome addition to Kitsap's recreation options and enhancement to the economic viability of surrounding communities, said County Commissioner Jan Angel, also in a written statement.Commissioner Tim Botkin also praised the fund because, as he said, it gives the county the means to preserve open space in one of the most livable communities in the state. Officials are reportedly keeping a special eye on the fund these days, however, because it is beginning to run out. But the purchase was worth it, they say.In addition to the Wicks Lake purchase, the fund made possible the purchase of other large undeveloped pieces of property including Point-No-Point in Hansville , Guillemot Cove in Seabeck, the Old Mill Site in Silverdale and the Banner Forest in south Kitsap.All told, Kitsap County has acquired 1,625 acres since the adoption of the fund 10 years ago. "

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