The Pierce County Council recently added two separate Key Peninsula properties to its priority list for acquisition under the Pierce County Conservation Futures Program.

Salmon returning to spawn in local waters. Photo by Ed Johnson, KP News

One approval authorizes Key Peninsula Parks staff to begin the process of purchasing or obtaining development rights on a 1-acre parcel, referred to as Taylor Bay Phase II, which is intended to further enhance property already under management by the park district.

The other approval, for 35 acres along east Rocky Creek, will provide essential habitat for Chinook, coho, chum and cutthroat. “The property has good spawning habitat and healthy forests. The Squaxin Island Tribe approves of acquiring and protecting parcels such as this that ultimately benefit fish and shellfish by promoting healthy saltwatrer watershed hydrology that proliferates downstream to promote a healthy salt water base,” said Erica Marbet, water resource biologist for the Squaxin Tribe.

Conservation efforts are most successful when government partners with groups such as Forterra, the Nisqually Land Trust, the Great Peninsula Conservancy and other private land trusts to help stretch taxpayer investments even further with finance and management plans, according to Pierce County Councilman Derek Young.

Conservation proposals are prioritized thanks to the work of a citizens advisory board that helps determine the worthiness of proposed projects and advises the county council of properties under the greatest threat of development and where conservation would be most beneficial to the ecosystem.

The council approved 13 unique parcels, totaling 1,371 acres, for conservation countywide in 2017.