County commits $752K to Hoypus

Acquisition of the Hoypus Hill property crossed a major hurdle April 2 when the Island County Commissioners unanimously agreed to pony up $752,000 of Conservation Futures funds to help purchase the 52-acre parcel of land.

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust submitted an application last year asking for $790,000 in funding to partially finance the purchase of the property that abuts Deception Pass State Park. The commissioners were ecstatic that the amount of money needed actually decreased.

Just before the board made its decision, a slew of supporters, including representatives from Ladies of the Beach, filed into the hearing room and took up all of the remaining seats and wall space.

“It was a unanimous vote and the room was full of supporters who gave the commissioners a round of applause after they approved the grant request,” said Pat Powell, Land Trust executive director.

Washington State Parks will add $406,000 from a State Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation grant, in addition to paying all associated expenses like surveying and due diligence work. The state matching funds will not be available until the end of August.

With three separate properties involved and different combinations of landowners, agreeing on a fair price has presented a challenge.

“We are still working to put together final paperwork, which is complicated by the number of parties involved,” Powell said. “I anticipate no problems and we expect to close by the end of August 2007.”

The Hoypus Hill property would be used for public day access for recreational purposes, the Land Trust director said. The 52-acre property is a perfect fit for the existing state park, allowing the heavily-visited area more opportunities to provide for dispersed recreational use for both islanders and visitors.

Once developed, the property will feature a loop trail, which is ideally suited for the land.

The property also provides an excellent buffer between developed residential areas and the old growth forest that abuts two sides of the property.

Commissioner John Dean said he and the other commissioners had no problem coming to a consensus on the funding prospect. A Camano Island resident, Dean routinely drives past the picturesque area where the property resides.

“Since I’ve taken on this job in January, there have already been a few tough choices to make,” the District 3 commissioner said. “But voting for the Hoypus Point purchase with Conservation Futures funds was a no-brainer and an honor. Every day I drive over here from my home on Camano Island, I am reminded at sunrise what an absolutely singular piece of paradise the Deception Pass area is and how important it is to retain and expand its public lands.”

Dean self-effacingly refused to take too much credit for keeping the wheels in motion.

“We commissioners simply raised our hand and said ‘aye,’ but Pat Powell, Washington State Parks, and the property owners deserve our thanks for making sure we pass more of the amazing, rugged shore and forests of North Whidbey onto future generations. I am so glad to be a small, formal part of it.”

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