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Oak Harbor trails program picks up $30K donation

The Conservation Futures program awarded $30,000 to the Freund Marsh and Trailhead Improvements project to improve Freund Marsh trails and maintain its wetland environment. This is due to a funding agreement between Conservation Futures and the city of Oak Harbor.

The Island County Conservation Futures program was formed in 1990 to allow counties to acquire and maintain land important to the conservation of the environment. Now, Conservation Futures also funds improvements to municipally-owned properties, such as passive recreation areas or wildlife sanctuaries, that are usually threatened.

Conservation Futures is funded by a property tax of approximately 5 cents per $1,000, according to Curt Gordon, 11-year member in the Technical Advisory Group for Conservation Futures.

“The program makes maybe $500,000 a year now,” said Gordon.

Freund Marsh is located southwest of Windjammer Park with a trailhead on Scenic Heights Road. Funding from Conservation Futures originally let the city of Oak Harbor purchase the marsh.

The Freund Marsh and Trailhead Improvements project seeks to make the trail system more accessible, protect the environment of the wetland and provide education about the area, according to Robert Voigt, senior city planner.

The trailhead on Scenic Heights Road is a large part of this project. Its design has been approved and final drawings are in progress, according to Voigt.

“We’ll finally have an access point at that end of the trail. It provides a more formal, proper entrance,” Voigt said.

The funding will also be used to fix the slope grade along parts of the trail. This is necessary to control erosion. Plants along the trail will be enhanced.

The money will also fund informative signs along the trail to replace the signs school children made, since those have become weathered and need to be updated.

“I’ve seen drawings for artwork for the signs and I think they’ll look fantastic,” Voigt said.

The signs will be installed in the next few months.

In the future, plans for trails throughout the park will be completed, according to Voigt.

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